Last week the Assembly did its part in making the $15 Minimum Wage a campaign Issue for 2017.
On May 19th the Assembly Labor Committee voted to replace the original A-15 legislation, an immediate minimum wage increase to $15 per hour, with the Senate's version scheduling an increase to $15 over a four year period. This ended the disagreement between Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Prieto on how to best implement the increase.
On May 26th the Assembly then passed A-15 in its new form and now it is up to the Senate to vote on its version of this bill (S-15). S-15 currently is with the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. This committee is currently consumed with having a new state budget by the end of June, so it may not take on consideration of S-15 until after this immediate task is done. However, the committee does have a "regular" committee meeting to consider pending legislation on June 6th and S-15 may be added to the list of bills being considered.
So what's going to happen? Most political observers believe that Governor Christie will veto a minimum wage increase bill. Another remote possibility is that the Governor may negotiate a compromise on minimum wage in exchange for something else he wants. While that may have been possible 3-4 years ago when Governor Christie's popularity was high, it may not occur in today's environment.
In the meantime, anticipating the Governor's veto, the legislative leadership has already announced their intention to pass a constitutional amendment ballot in 2016 and 2017 (which does not require the Governor's consent) that would amend the state's constitution to increase the minimum wage to $15, letting NJ's voters decide this issue in November 2017.
NJSA and the rest of NJ's business community continues to advocate against legislation which would damage NJ's economy and its rate of improvement. The current and proposed state budgets are already challenged with lower than originally forecasted tax revenue projections.
What can you do? Keep letting your representative know where you stand on this and other legislation like this is critically important.