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Statements following signing of minimum wage legislation

By David Wildstein, February 04 2019 2:29 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation today that will raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024.  It’s noteworthy that Murphy’s press release included comment from Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin — both sponsors of the bill — as well as the state’s two U.S. Senators, the Lt. Governor, and six of the eleven Democrats in the New Jersey House delegation.

GOVERNOR PHIL MURPHY

“For far too long, too many of our fellow New Jerseyans have been struggling to survive on wages that have not kept up with the cost of living/  I am incredibly proud to sign legislation that raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour, ensuring that the most vulnerable among us will have the means to put food on the table, while growing our economy and addressing priorities of the small business community. I thank Senate President Sweeney, Speaker Coughlin, and thousands of advocates and community leaders throughout our state for their unwavering commitment to making this goal a reality.”

LT. GOVERNOR SHEILA OLIVER
“In New Jersey there is no way a family can survive on $8.85 an hour.  Fair wages are about paying people enough to afford the rising costs of health care, education and the basic necessities in life.  New Jersey has made a historic decision today that will help raise over a million working families out of poverty while boosting the economy. I proudly stand by Governor Murphy as he signs a $15 minimum wage into law.”

SENATE PRESIDENT STEVE SWEENEY
“Our goal of reaching a $15 minimum wage will now become a reality. A minimum wage should be a living wage.  This is a progressive plan that will provide greater economic fairness for minimum wage workers, helping to improve their standard of living and their quality of life. We can now achieve greater economic fairness by closing the wealth gap that has separated segments of society.”

ASSEMBLY SPEAKER CRAIG COUGHLIN
“I am proud to join Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney during this remarkable day to celebrate our minimum wage bill becoming law.  Too many workers aren’t earning enough to make ends meet. But, that all changes today. Today marks a new day for New Jersey residents and future generations, as we gradually raise the minimum wage and help alleviate poverty across our great state.”

U.S. SENATOR BOB MENENDEZ
“If you work hard and have a full time job, you should be able to afford a roof over your head and food on your table, but sadly, too many across our state and our country can’t get by no matter how hard or how long they work. “I’d like to applaud Gov. Murphy, Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin for working together on behalf of the people of New Jersey.  When I think of the workers this legislation will benefit, I think of the kind of people I grew up with—men and women who put in long hours in some of the toughest jobs in our society, but still can’t seem to get ahead.  As Democrats, we will never give up in our fight to create an economy that works for everyone.”

U.S. SENATOR CORY BOOKER
“Here in New Jersey, we are setting an example for the rest of the nation by raising the minimum wage and lifting many fellow New Jerseyans out of poverty.  It is time that we build on New Jersey’s successful effort and pass a $15 minimum wage on the federal level and provide all workers with a living wage.”

CONGRESSMAN FRANK PALLONE
$15 minimum wage is an important step in that direction.  I want to thank Governor Murphy and the legislature for passing a law that will make a real difference in the lives of workers throughout our state. Now, Congress must work to follow Governor Murphy and New Jersey’s lead to increase the minimum wage for millions more families throughout our country.”

CONGRESSMAN BILL PASCRELL
“No one working a full-time job should ever live in poverty. Putting the minimum wage on a path to $15 will give all New Jerseyans a path to the dignity and security that comes with a living wage.   I thank Governor Murphy and our state’s legislative leaders for their tireless work on this crucial issue. An increased minimum wage will strengthen New Jersey’s working class and our state as a whole. Today is a historic day for New Jersey and I will fight to raise the federal minimum wage to bring New Jersey values and policies to the rest of the nation.”

CONGRESSMAN DONALD NORCROSS
“I am incredibly proud that New Jersey is taking action to help over a million workers and boost the state’s economy by raising the minimum wage.  Last year, Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin joined me for their first public appearance together calling for $15 an hour minimum wage. Today, that promise becomes a reality and full-time working New Jerseyans will be lifted out of poverty. I’ve worked for minimum wage and I spent my career fighting for good pay for workers. I know this is the moral issue of our time. Now, my colleagues in Washington need to wake up, follow my home state’s lead and get to work to raise wages.”

CONGRESSMAN DONALD PAYNE

“In an age of increasing income inequality, it is unconscionable for people to work a full-time job and not have enough income to keep their lights on.  At the federal level, I am an original co-sponsor of a bill that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But it’s been nearly twelve years since Congress raised the federal minimum wage. I am proud that New Jersey is once again leading the way and not waiting on the federal government. Raising the wage will help New Jersey’s working families prosper.”

CONGRESSWOMAN BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN

“There can be no understating what this means – a stronger, more vibrant New Jersey for all of its residents.  Raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024 won’t just help workers, it will lift our entire economy by allowing those individuals to be consumers again. It means workers can afford the goods and services offered by New Jersey businesses. It means more customers at the small businesses on main street.  It means more of our communities thrive. The tireless work of the governor and legislature will make New Jersey a model for the nation and the federal government.”

CONGRESSMAN TOM MALINOWSKI

“There should be an expectation in this country that anyone who works full time deserves to live above the poverty line. I’m proud to represent a state that’s leading the way.”

NEW JERSEY CITIZEN ACTION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PHYLLIS SALOWE-KAYE

“Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will dramatically improve the lives of over a million New Jerseyans and their families. It’s a bottom-up investment in our economy that will pay dividends for years to come. After years of trickle-down policies that rewarded the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of working families New Jersey is beginning to tackle the income inequality that plagues our state and our nation as a whole. Thank you to Governor Murphy for signing this legislation and all those, including legislative leadership, the workers and advocates who worked tireless to ensure this bill made it to the Governor’s desk. This is a great day in New Jersey.

AMAZON VICE PRESIDNET OF PUBLIC POLICY BRIAN HUSEMAN

“Last fall, we announced a $15 minimum wage for all hourly employees in the U.S..  Since then, employees have told us they’re having an easier time providing for their families and meeting their financial needs. That’s why we called on other companies and policymakers to join us in this endeavor. We applaud Governor Murphy for his efforts to raise wages for New Jersey’s entire workforce.”

MAKE THE ROAD NJ YOUTH LEADER GIOVANA CASTENEDA

“No family in New Jersey can live on our current minimum wage.  Today, New Jersey takes a historic step forward by signing a law that will raise the minimum wage across the state to $15, finally giving working families the compensation we deserve. This victory is a sign of the power of the Fight for 15. As a teen worker who fought hard with young people across the state not to be left behind, I am proud that teen workers are included in the minimum wage hike. Our work has value and contributes to our families’ income and allows us to save for college. We are thrilled to welcome Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin to our community center to sign the law, and are grateful for their leadership.”

NEW JERSEY WORKING FAMILIES ALLIANCE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ANALILIA MEJIA
“By becoming the 4th state to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, New Jersey continues its momentum of progressive victories for workers and their families. Today’s victory will put nearly 1 million New Jersey workers on a path to the middle-class and allows greater choices and mobility for workers. We commend Governor Murphy and Senate and Assembly leadership for prioritizing this key issue and recognizing the need to secure greater economic justice for workers.  This victory belongs to the countless workers and advocates who remained undeterred by Chris Christie’s veto and built the grassroots support that made this moment possible.  We pushed back and defeated proposals that would have created a teen sub-minimum wage. The fight to raise the minimum wage for workers doesn’t end here. There is a lot work left to do to ensure the state’s agricultural and tipped workers are not left behind. We will continue to advocate for legislation that ensure every worker in New Jersey can earn a living wage and recognizes the dignity in their work.”

STATE SENATOR DECLAN O’SCANLON
“This law will have disastrous consequences for our business community and minimum wage workers. It simply goes too far too fast.  I serve on the bipartisan manufacturing caucus and we heard from every single manufacturer that it was impossible for them to absorb this increase without losing jobs.”

“A hugely important component of this discussion is the effect on our budget. With the fiscal pronouncements that we have made, including the Senate President himself, how can we commit the State to a dramatic impact like the roughly half a billion dollar price tag of this increase? The is inconsistent with the Path to Progress suggestions for lower cost of government. We are digging ourselves deeper into a hole that we already don’t know how to get out of. How can we possibly look our taxpayers in the eye–already the most beleaguered in the nation–no matter how well-intentioned this might be?”

“Further, I’ve had service providers for those with developmental disabilities like the Arc in our office terrified about how this will shut down their programs and organizations unless we can give them more funding. These people do the most noble work in the State and serve the most vulnerable among us. They are already operating on a stretched budget, and they simply cannot absorb what this increase will do to their operating costs.”

“Minimum wage earners will very rapidly find themselves kicked off many of the programs they rely on; CHIP, FamilyCare, LIHEAP, SNAP. All because of a wage increase that they cannot turn down and it’s going to result in a net loss of income for them. These are the sort of negative unintended consequences that we haven’t fully accounted for. Leadership has all but admitted they haven’t fully considered these unintended consequences by setting up a panel to study them. Forging ahead blindly without knowing all of the ways this will impact the very people we are trying to help is irresponsible.”

“The amount of job loss that we are going to see among small businesses will be tragic.  New Jersey is basically famous for not wanting to pump our own gas. In fact, I’ve previously received phone calls making sure to let me know that ‘Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas’! Well, we better be prepared to start pumping our own gas soon because one of the industries that is bracing for massive losses is our fuel merchants. Local gas station owners testified before us that they cannot sustain employees and keep their businesses open without bringing in self-serve gas.”

“From a budget hole, to kicking people off their health benefits, to devastating service providers, to leading us towards self-serve gas because of job losses we truly cannot understate the impact that moving this fast is going to have on our State.”

STATE SENATOR STEVEN OROHO
“The legislation signed by Governor Murphy fails to recognize that most employers have a fixed budget for total compensation, which often covers the cost of wages, bonuses, health benefits, life insurance, and vacation time. When one of those costs goes up, another cost has to be reduced. By mandating higher wages, the Governor’s action is certain to lead to the elimination of bonuses, a reduction of paid time off, and higher premiums, deductibles, and co-pays for health benefits for many workers.”

Oroho said that kind of compensation trade-off was demonstrated by Amazon when it announced in October that it was raising pay for hourly employees to $15/hour.

“The simple fact is that companies like Amazon will not adjust total compensation, despite paying a higher minimum wage.  In exchange for getting bumped to $15 an hour, Amazon workers lost monthly performance bonuses and stock awards. Other employers may compensate by reducing other benefits that workers value, like health insurance and vacation days. State government shouldn’t assume that every worker wants to trade other valuable benefits they receive for the higher hourly wage that’s being forced on their employer.”

“The bottom line is State government continuing to tell companies how to run their businesses will push jobs out of state and then no one wins.”

NEW JERSEY POLICY PERSPECTIVE DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT & PUBLIC AFFAIRS BRANDON MCKOY
“Today is a historic day for New Jersey and the nearly one million workers who will see a boost in their take home pay. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will help lift working families out of poverty and strengthen the state’s economy. With more money in their pockets, New Jerseyans will have increased purchasing power, benefitting local economies and businesses on Main Street in every corner of the state.

“We thank Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Coughlin for their leadership on this landmark legislation. While there is still more work to be done for agricultural and tipped workers who face unique challenges that are not addressed by this law, this is a critical step toward a more robust and inclusive economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected.”

STATE SENATOR CHRISTOPHER BATEMAN
“Campaign promises are one thing, but good policy is another and this legislation is just not good policy. I think we can all agree that the current minimum wage needs to change, but we had a responsibility to raise it in a measured, responsible way – with carve-outs that are actually carve-outs, not just slower phase-outs.

“Many of the decades-old shops that make our Main Streets unique will go out of business. The landscape of the Jersey Shore and seasonal destinations around the state will change forever. Bigger corporations and chains that can afford to do so, will replace entry-level jobs with kiosks and automated services.

“These are the consequences we are seeing in states that have raised the wage in a similar manner. I hope it doesn’t happen in New Jersey, but I don’t think we have left our over-taxed and over-regulated business owners with any other alternative than to replace people with technology or close all together.

“To someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, what’s worse: having a job that doesn’t pay enough? Or no job at all? The answer is pretty clear.

“The minimum wage must go up so that everyone can afford to live and work in New Jersey, but this legislation runs contrary to that goal. Our focus should be on creating jobs, opportunities for workforce training and higher education, and making this state better for business in general.

“We need to get back to making policy decisions together in the halls of the Legislature, instead of in partisan backrooms, or worse at a campaign rally. I hope that next time a big policy decision needs to be made, it can be made in a transparent, bipartisan fashion, where the concerns and viewpoints of people from all walks of life are heard and considered. That’s the kind of leadership the people of New Jersey need and deserve.”

STATE SENATOR JOSEPH VITALE

“This will put New Jersey on a steady path to a $15 minimum wage, giving lower wage workers a raise they need and deserve. Raising the minimum wage means raising the living wage, giving hard working people a greater ability to support themselves and their families and to improve their standard of living.

“Trying to pay a heating bill, fill a prescription or simply buy groceries can be an incredible challenge for those earning a low wage. No one who works full time should live in poverty and every worker deserves the right to build a better life.

“Many minimum wage workers are often employed in service jobs in the healthcare sector that are vital to the care of the most vulnerable and in jobs that serve the public. They deserve a fair wage that respects the dignity of their labor and the value of their work.

“We hope that these increases will have an upward ripple effect that boosts the pay of other workers up the wage scale. The difference between the wealthy and working people has grown too wide for a diverse economy that should treat its workers with greater equality. Higher wages will provide economic and social benefits.”

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