N.J. minimum-wage workers in for 6-cent raise

New Jersey Sen. Shirley Turner says a cost-of-living wage hike of 6 cents in 2017 is not enough to  help workers struggling to make ends meet. A constitutional amendment voters approved in 2013 ties the base pay to the rate of inflation.(AP file photo)

New Jersey Sen. Shirley Turner says a cost-of-living wage hike of 6 cents in 2017 is not enough to help workers struggling to make ends meet. A constitutional amendment voters approved in 2013 ties the base pay to the rate of inflation.(AP file photo)

There was no increase this year, but New Jersey’s minimum wage will go up at the start of 2017.

A constitutional amendment voters approved in 2013 ties the base pay to the rate of inflation.

But Sen. Shirley Turner said the 6-cents an hour cost-of-living increase that takes effect Sunday 1st is not enough.

“It’s outrageous that the working people in this state who are making the least amount of money, minimum wage, will only receive a 6 cents increase,” said Turner, D-Mercer. “These are people who are just struggling and will not be able to make ends meet.”

Legislative leaders couldn’t agree on putting a measure on the ballot to phase in a $15 an hour minimum by 2022 after Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation that would have required the gradual increase.

Senate President Steve Sweeney said he plans to make another attempt to get that legislation in place by January or February of 2018.

“We’ll work through the year with the Assembly and, hopefully, come up with a plan that we know can pass both houses and whoever the next governor is will sign it,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester.

Instead of locking in an annual increase, it would be better for the legislature to consider acting on the minimum wage every year or two, said New Jersey Chamber of Commerce president Tom Bracken.

“That’s the smart way to do it,” he said. “Because if you do anything that targets a number that’s graduated over the years, if the economy doesn’t match what’s being targeted, there’s a disconnect.”

Bracken said a $15 an hour minimum wage would result in job cuts because small businesses could not afford to pay it and still make a profit.

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