NJ Assembly Approves Minimum Wage Amendment

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -

New Jersey voters will get the last word on whether to increase the minimum wage.

The Assembly gave final approval on Thursday to a resolution putting a $1 minimum wage increase on the ballot in November and tying future annual adjustments to the Consumer Price Index.

If voters approve, the minimum wage would rise to $8.25 per hour.

President Obama proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour and tying future increases to consumer prices.

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a Democrat-sponsored bill that would have increased the wage to $8.50 per hour and provided yearly indexed adjustments. He proposed a $1 wage increase phased in over three years and no future indexing of the wage.

In a related story, Speaker Sheldon Silver joined with Assemblymen Keith L. T. Wright and new Labor Committee Chairman Carl Heastie to announce an amendment to the Assembly legislation to match the President’s proposal. The legislation still includes indexing so wages do not erode in the future.

“This week, the issue claimed the national stage as a critical component of the President’s agenda,” said Silver. “I am heartened by his rousing endorsement to raise the wage and tie it to the cost of living. However, New York cannot wait while Washington weighs the pros and cons of a federal shift in the minimum wage. We must act now.”

The legislation will also set wages for food service workers who receive tips at $6.21.

The minimum wage in New York has increased only ten cents in the last six years. It was raised with the federal minimum wage from $7.15 to $7.25 an hour in 2009. The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and 16 other states have higher minimum wage rates than New York State. Ten other states have passed legislation indexing the minimum wage.