This week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have raised the state’s minimum wage from $8.38 to $15 dollars an hour by 2021. The plan was to raise the minimum to $10.10 on January 1, 2017, and add an additional $1.25 every year until 2021, at which point the minimum would alter with the consumer price index.
“A substantial minimum wage increase will help lift countless families out of poverty, decrease government dependency and boost commerce by pumping more dollars back into the economy,” said the bill’s lead sponsor Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.
New Jersey is one of the most expensive states to live in in the country. The United Way of Northern New Jersey determined that an average salary of $27,552 was necessary to support a single adult. Currently the almost one million people in the state making minimum wage are trying to survive on a mere $17,430 a year. Many of those people are forced to seek out publicly funded assistance from the government and nonprofit agencies in order to feed, clothe and house themselves and their families.
New York and California are the only two states that have set a path to a $15 minimum wage. New Jersey Democratic state leaders say they will push for a 2017 voter referendum on the issue.
Earlier this year Governor Christie vetoed a gender pay equity bill that would have closed a federal loophole that allows employers to pay women less than men by giving them different job titles, despite the fact that they perform “substantially similar work.”