Christie vetoes plan for gradually increasing N.J. minimum wage to $15

At Pennington Central Market

At Pennington Central Market

Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed legislation that would have gradually increased New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years.

Christie said he rejected the measure because it would trigger an escalation of wages that would make doing business in the state unaffordable.

“While the bill’s proposed increase surely is responsive to the demands of Democratic legislators’ political patrons, it fails to consider the capacity of businesses, especially small businesses, to absorb the substantially increased labor costs it will impose,” the governor said Tuesday during a stop at a  grocery store in Pennington.

“A dramatic increase in the minimum wage would force New Jersey food stores to make up for this significant expense by reducing staff, cutting hours, and raising prices,” said Michael Rothwell, a co-owner of Pennington Central Market. “Additionally, we may be forced to reduce our health insurance benefits and require our associates to contribute more for their benefits.”

New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken said the wage boost would be a major problem for the business community.

“It’s not even a positive for the people who are proposed to get a benefit from this because some people, yes, will make more money, but a lot of people will be out of a job,” Bracken said.

The New Jersey Working Families Alliance said, however, the veto thwarts efforts to raise families out of poverty.

And New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal research group, said the phased-in $15 minimum wage would be a sensible way to help low-wage workers and their families.

Legislative leaders said they will try to get it enacted through a constitutional amendment on next year’s ballot.

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