Gov. Chris Christie is facing a deadline to act on raising New Jersey’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in the next year and to at least $15 over the next five years.
The Republican Christie has criticized the proposal, which the Democrat-led Legislature sent to him in June. When lawmakers return from an August break, likely after Labor Day, Christie will have to veto the law if he wants to block its enactment. Legislation may become law in New Jersey if the governor fails to take action after 45 legislative days.
If it were enacted, N.J. would become the third state on a direct path toward a $15 an hour minimum wage, the highest in the nation. New York and California passed similar measures. Other states — New Jersey included — have already linked their increased wages to inflation.
Democrats, who control the statehouse, and liberal groups have put the legislation at center of their agenda.
“This is an integral part of our efforts to rebuild the middle class,” Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said recently.
The New Jersey measure would raise the current $8.38 wage to $10.10 on Jan. 1. It would then raise the wage by $1.25 a year or $1 plus an adjustment for inflation, whichever is greater, the following four years.
Christie criticized the proposal in April, saying businesses would have to increase prices to accommodate the higher wage by 10 to 15 percent.
Business groups, including the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, argued hiking the wage could have a “ripple effect” on workers who currently earn $15 an hour.