Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, the lead sponsor of legislation (A-15) that would have increased New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years to help working families, expressed his disappointment Tuesday over Gov. Christie’s veto of the measure, a move that will now force the Legislature to take the question to voters.
“Creating a livable minimum wage is a key component in the comprehensive strategy we’ve been working on since last year to combat poverty,” said Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). “That makes the Governor’s veto all the more disappointing, though not unexpected. The age-old rhetoric he is relying on also ignores the evidence – a substantial minimum wage increase will help lift countless families out of poverty, decrease government dependency and boost commerce by pumping more dollars back into the economy.
“Today’s minimum wage does nothing short of tear families apart, forcing them to work multiple jobs just to live hand-to-mouth, while relying on government assistance to make ends meet. Meanwhile, the wealth continues to trickle up, not down.
“Unfortunately, as we said earlier this year, this decision now forces our hand. We gave the Governor the opportunity to do the right thing, but unfortunately he declined. Moving forward, we will turn to voters to let them decide if a fair and just livable wage is the one they want for New Jersey. As a compassionate and progressive state, I am confident that New Jersey residents will eventually right this wrong.”
Prieto noted that more New Jersey residents are living in poverty now than in the past five decades according to a report by Legal Services of New Jersey. The agency estimates about 2.8 million adults and 800,000 children lived in poverty in New Jersey 2014. That’s 40 percent higher than it was before the 2008 Great Recession.