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Speaker Prieto & Senate President Sweeney: NJ Workers Deserve a Higher Minimum Wage

(TRENTON) — Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) had the following published recently in the Newark Star-Ledger:

“Across the nation, state and city officials and voters are saying no to poverty, and yes to the need to restore the high-wage, high-growth economy that propelled consumer spending and an unparalleled era of shared prosperity for all American workers for three decades following World War II.

The phase-in we are proposing is a balanced approach that provides businesses time to plan, and most important, lets workers and their families know that better times are ahead.

Contrary to what the Governor and business lobbyists want you to believe, the $10.10 wage we are proposing to enact will not hurt New Jersey’s competitiveness. It will create more jobs at better pay.

Massachusetts, California and Vermont all have a statewide minimum wage over $10, with Oregon soon to follow. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is pushing for a $15 minimum wage. Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., will all reach $15 by 2020, and Chicago will hit $13 in 2019. Even Birmingham, Alabama, and Lexington, Kentucky – whose cost of living is much lower than New Jersey’s – have $10.10 minimum wage increases set to go into effect.

When we put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2013 to raise the minimum wage to $8.25 and index it to the rate of inflation, business groups warned that New Jersey would lose 31,000 jobs. The people disagreed and approved the amendment by a 60% to 40% vote.

What happened? New Jersey gained 29,000 jobs in the first year that the minimum wage was increased, then added 64,000 jobs in 2015 – which the Governor has repeatedly pointed to as the largest private sector job growth in New Jersey in the last 15 years.

Raising the minimum wage is not a job killer — it is a job creator.

Unlike the wealthy who put their tax cuts in the stock market or offshore in the Caymans, the working poor spend the increased money they receive in their local communities, which puts more money into the pockets of small business owners, grocery store clerks, appliance salesmen and gas station attendants…”

To read the Speaker and the Senate President’s op-ed in full, click here.