Democrats want to boost NJ minimum wage to $15

 Democratic lawmakers introduce a measure calling for $15 an hour minimum wage in New Jersey. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Democratic lawmakers introduce a measure calling for $15 an hour minimum wage in New Jersey. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Democrats in the New Jersey Legislature want to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Legislation to boost the base pay is part of the Democrats’ efforts to lift people out of poverty and rebuild the middle class, said Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto, adding that “$340 a week roughly is what these individuals make.

“That’s not a livable wage in the state of New Jersey,” said Prieto, D-Hudson. “And when you have people that work every day for their employers to make a profit, we want to make sure that they’re properly compensated.”

When people earning the current $8.38 minimum wage can’t make ends meet, the government has to step in with a variety of programs, said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex.

“It’s not fair when employers don’t want to pay a livable wage, that government has to step in and bail them out.”

New Jersey Business and Industry Association president Michele Sikerka said the plan poses major concerns for small businesses.

“I think we’ve shifted enough of the burden to business, and actually I’m amazed that government suggests they’re subsidizing business through their obligation to provide safety-net programs,” she said.

The proposed legislation is likely to be vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie, but Democrats say they want to move it forward to show their concern for low-wage workers struggling to survive.

The governor’s office said the measure would kill jobs and destroy an economy that’s on the rebound.

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