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Gov. Phil Murphy, left, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, center, and Senate President Steve Sweeney. New Jersey Globe Photo.

Lawmakers announce $15/hour minimum wage deal

By Nikita Biryukov, January 17 2019 3:52 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin announced an agreement on a $15 minimum wage bill Thursday.

“No one working a full-time job should ever live in poverty,” Murphy said. “Putting the minimum wage on a clear and responsible path to $15/hour is good for workers, good for our businesses, and good for our economy. A higher minimum wage strengthens all of New Jersey. I thank Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin for their commitment to this issue, and look forward to signing this legislation into law.”

Under the deal, the minimum wage would increase to $10 an hour in July. It would climb to $11 an hour by Jan. 1, 2020, and would then climb by $1 every year until reaching $15 an hour in 2024.

Seasonal and part-time workers would reach $15 an hour in 2026.

“Since the day I was sworn in as Assembly Speaker, I have pledged to do all I can to make New Jersey more affordable. By increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 for the majority of workers we are achieving the goal of lifting people up to improve their quality of life,” Coughlin said. “We also took into consideration the concerns of our State’s valued small business community. I thank Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney for working with me so closely and tirelessly to ensure fairness for future generations of workers.”

Coughlin led the push for the $15 minimum wage, often serving as a mediator between Sweeney and Murphy, who have feuded frequently over the latter’s first year in office.

The Assembly Speaker repeatedly pushed minimum wage proposals to keep negotiations from stalling and keep his counterparts at the table.

Farm workers would see their minimum wage rise to $12.50 an hour by Jan. 1, 2024. New Jersey Labor Commissioner and Secretary of Agriculture would then have until March 1, 2024 to study whether the farm worker minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2027.

If the two cannot come to an agreement, the governor would appoint a tiebreaker, whom the Senate would confirm.

“This is a progressive plan to elevate New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 so that workers have a fair wage that allows them to support themselves and their families,” Sweeney said. “This plan will put New Jersey in the forefront of the national movement to build a high-wage economy.”

Progressive groups that have long pushed for a $15 minimum wage in the state applauded the deal, saying it would bolster New Jersey’s economy.

“Raising New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is one of the most consequential, pro-worker policies enacted in the state’s history,” said NJ Policy Perspective director of government and public affairs Brandon McKoy. “Phasing in to $15 over five years will boost the take home pay of almost one million New Jerseyans from all corners of the state. The positive impact of this increase will reverberate throughout the economy as workers will immediately have more disposable income to spend in their local communities.”

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