Minimum wage hike back on Christie’s desk after previous veto

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney

It’s déjà vu all over again for Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

On Thursday, the state Senate approved a measure to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage, a move Christie vetoed last time it reached his desk. The Assembly passed the bill in May.

The bill would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 over four years.

“A $15 minimum wage would give hourly workers an improved pay scale so they can keep pace with the cost of living and support themselves and their families,” said Sen. President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, who sponsored the bill. “It is the right thing to do for working people and it is the smart thing to do for the economy.”

Progressive groups such as New Jersey Policy Perspective have said that a hike in the minimum wage would help poor and middle-class families falling victim to growing income inequality in the state.

But business groups such as the state Chamber of Commerce have said that nearly doubling the minimum wage would burden small businesses.

Before the vote, Sen. Joe Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, argued that teenagers and college-age adults working seasonal or summer jobs would suffer.

“How many of us come to the Jersey Shore and depend on all the young people that serve for three  months a year or eight weeks a year between late June and Labor Day to make the tourism economy go?”

Under the plan, the state’s minimum wage would rise from $8.38 per hour to $10.10 per hour on Jan. 1.

Each year for the four years after that, the minimum wage would increase by $1.25 or $1 plus the rate of inflation — whichever is higher.

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