Democrats consider referendum on raising N.J. minimum wage

Some Democrats in the New Jersey Senate are talking about putting a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage on the 2013 election ballot.

The Assembly passed a bill in May to boost New Jersey’s $7.25 an hour minimum wage to $8.50, but the measure stalled in the Senate.

Montclair State political science professor Brigid Harrison says putting the question on the ballot could help Democrats in next year’s gubernatorial election.

“One of the things that we would see coming out of this is a high level of activism by labor unions supporting the measure,” Harrison said. “And Democrats are thinking that, if we can drive labor participation, it makes the chances of whoever the Democratic nominee is much more successful.”

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Fairleigh Dickinson political scientist Peter Woolley says even threatening to put the minimum wage hike on the ballot is a good way for Democrats to shape the political agenda.

He says it could also be a big draw at the polls.

“Gubernatorial elections in New Jersey are off-year elections so it tends to depress the number of people who actually come out and vote,” Woolley says. “So this might be a good way for Democrats to motivate people to vote who otherwise might not otherwise come out.”

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