Measure Would Increase Minimum Wage to $8.50/hr; Requires Annual Adjustments
(TRENTON) — Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex), Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), Majority Conference Leader Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen) and Assembly Budget Committee Chair Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) on Wednesday issued a multimedia package on the final legislative approval of their bill to increase New Jersey’s hourly minimum wage to $8.50 and require the rate to then be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index.
The multimedia package consists of a video of the sponsors discussing the benefits of their legislation and the need to increase the state’s minimum wage and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
The Assembly initially voted to approve the bill in May. The Senate approved it on Thursday. The Assembly then had to reconsider it because of amendments that moved the effective date to March 1, 2013 and the start of the CPI indexing to Jan. 1, 2014. The Assembly gave final legislative approval to the measure by a vote of 44-33-1. It now heads to the governor.
The bill is sponsored by Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic), Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex), Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden), Speaker Pro Tem Jerry Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset), Majority Conference Leader Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen) and Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex).
Speaker Oliver, during the Assembly reorganization ceremony in January, announced increasing the minimum wage — which is currently $7.25 per hour — would be a Democratic priority this legislative session.
The bill (A-2162) specifically increases New Jersey’s hourly minimum wage rate to $8.50 on and then requires it be adjusted annually based on any increase in the Consumer Price Index, with the adjustment taking effect on July 1 of each year.
A transcript of comments by Assembly Democratic leadership is appended below:
Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex):
“The minimum wage is the legal minimum that an employer can pay anybody in the State of New Jersey. The current minimum wage, at $7.25 an hour, puts a family at below the poverty rate.”
Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex):
“Minimum wage earners bring home approximately $15,000 a year. That translates into about $290 a week.
“You cannot afford housing, food, transportation, medicine; the things you need just to have a modicum of a quality of life on minimum wage. And we’ve not elevated the minimum wage in New Jersey since 2005. We all know that the cost of living has gone up, and I think it is imperative — morally and ethically — for the state legislature to take action to elevate the minimum wage.”
Majority Conference Chair Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen):
“This bill raises the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour and also ties the minimum wage to the CPI — the Consumer Price Index.
“Now, what does that do for a person who’s in that income bracket? It makes their life just a little better, because now they will have more money to take care of their family to take care of their expenses. But also, the impact of this is that this money goes right back into the economy.”
Assembly Budget Committee Chair Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson):
“It’s so important, because the working poor of the State of New Jersey, a lot of them work for minimum wage and a lot of them supplement their income with minimum wage. And we think that an increase, it’s the right thing to do. We need to help out the most vulnerable in the State of New Jersey.”
“There are families that need this money. There are families that are working hard, playing by the rules, but struggling to get ahead. And it’s our obligation as a legislature; it’s our obligation as a state to create the rules that allow these families to earn just a little bit more.”