Gov. Murphy calls on lawmakers to raise minimum wage before Christmas

Ian Bush
November 26, 2018 - 3:42 pm
New Jersey Capitol

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NEW JERSEY  (KYW Newsradio) — Gov. Phil Murphy says it's the Christmas gift New Jersey's lowest paid workers deserve: An increase in the minimum wage to $15. 

This would make the state's minimum wage become among the highest in the country, and the Democrat says it's doable before the end of the year. 

"My signing pen is at the ready," said the New Jersey Governor. 

But there's not yet a bill to sign. 

There's infighting among members of the majority party over whether legislation should benefit or exclude teenagers and farm workers, with State Senate President Steve Sweeney concerned over the impact on small businesses. Republicans argue, in part, that the cost of the increase will be passed on to consumers. 

Murphy ties the financials to morals, and said, "I myself am guilty of separating the notion between a stronger New Jersey and a fairer New Jersey. But the fact of the matter is, if we raise the minimum wage, not only do we make the state fairer, but we immediately contribute to its strength." 

RELATED: Minimum wage increase a top priority for Gov. Murphy, legislative leaders​

The wage will hit $8.85 per hour on Jan. 1. That's up 25 cents or two bucks a day, and barely enough to cover the cost of a bus fare, Murphy says. 

"Hundreds of thousands of families will still be living in poverty. I can't for the life of me understand how we continue to tolerate this," he said. 

Murphy wants the $15 wage implemented over time to avoid "sticker shock" to businesses. 

The impact will be felt by a quarter of the state's workforce, Murphy says, with most of them women, full-timers and people of color.

"We can and we must deliver for these families and ensure a stronger economic future for them and for our state," he said. 

A bill vetoed by former Governor Christie two years ago would have accomplished it over five years.