Almost 1 million workers in New Jersey labor for the minimum wage of $8.38 an hour, well below what it costs to provide basic support to a single adult. But relief won’t be coming while Chris Christie is still in office.
Democratic senators, led by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) and Shirley Turner (D-15), in February proposed a referendum on an amendment to the state’s Constitution that would increase the minimum wage to $9, with yearly one-dollar increases until 2024, when the minimum wage would reach $15. After that, raises would be tied to the cost of living.
Even that effort was not without intra-party controversy, however, as Sweeney sought to exempt minors and farmworkers.
In August, Christie vetoed the bill, along with other proposed anti-poverty measures.
All three Sussex County state legislative representatives, Republicans Steve Oroho, Gail Phoebus, and Parker Space, voted no on the bill (A15).
Democratic legislators say that because of the veto and the complexities involved in a change to the Constitution, they ran out of time to get a resolution calling for the referendum passed.
Given that Christie has only one year left in his term, senators have decided to delay their efforts until after the gubernatorial election in November 2017.
When, hopefully, the Democratic Party succeeds in placing a worker-friendly progressive in the State House.
Until then, minimum-wage workers can enjoy the walloping six-cent raise to $8.44 that kicks in on Jan. 1.