The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved a bill (S15) that would gradually raise the State’s minimum wage from $8.38 to $15 per hour by 2021. The full Assembly passed an identical bill in May.
Opponents of the increase say that small businesses would see their payrolls sky-rocket and fear they would have to increase prices, eliminate overtime, reduce staff, adopt automation to replace workers or shorten hours of operation, in order to satisfy the higher hourly wage.
Under the bill, the New Jersey minimum wage would hit $10.10 on January 1, 2017, and then increase more than $1.25 an hour each year until 2021. After 2021, annual increases will be tied to changes in the consumer price index.
If the Senate passes the bill and it is vetoed by Governor Chris Christie (as expected), Democratic leaders have said they will attempt to place the measure on the fall 2017 ballot, and leave it up to New Jersey voters to decide.
Proponents of the wage increase say nearly one million New Jersey residents would benefit from the wage hike.