Senate Panel Approves Minimum Wage Hike
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. November 19, 2012
The budget committee in the New Jersey Senate has advanced a bill to boost the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour and provide automatic yearly increases based on the rate of inflation. None of the Republicans on the panel voted for it.
Labor and anti-poverty groups that support raising the base pay say it would help improve the lives of low-income workers and inject money into New Jersey’s economy.
Adele LaTourette is director of the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition. She says it’s critical to tie the minimum wage to the consumer price index.
“We need to give people jobs that afford them the ability to buy their own food, to pay their own rent, the perhaps buy their own home, and give them the dignity to choose the way they choose to live.”
Samia Bahsoun is a member of the Main Street Alliance. She says a minimum wage increase could help small businesses that are trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy.
“It would allow those consumers that have a slight additional income to afford the luxury to buy a beach badge, to go to the small stores on the Jersey Shore and have the luxury of having their nails done, their hair done, and take the kids at night for ice cream.”
The New Jersey Business and Industry Association opposes the measure. The group’s vice president Stefanie Riehl says a minimum wage increase is extremely untimely.
“Where a business is able to pay above minimum wage they will, but we’re hearing from our businesses that many of them especially as they’re struggling to recover from the storm they’re having damage that’s not covered by insurance they’re simply not able to pay above minimum wage.”
Democratic lawmakers say if Governor Christie rejects the automatic yearly increases, they’ll move ahead with a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to approve it.