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Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Legislature passes minimum wage bill

By Nikita Biryukov, January 31 2019 4:18 pm

Trenton Democrats sent a $15 minimum wage bill to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk Thursday.

Murphy said on Twitter that he intends to sign the bill on Monday.

The measure, which would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024 for most workers in the state, passed the Assembly 52-25.

“Today, both the Assembly and Senate passed legislation to help working-class families across our state. We are standing up for families living paycheck to paycheck and for protecting future generations,” Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said. “I look forward to standing with the Governor and Senate President for the signing of the bill to gradually raise the minimum wage into law and give New Jersey families the living wage they deserve.”

Two Democrats, the newly-sworn in Assemblyman Matt Milam and Assemblyman Bruce Land, voted against the measure. The two both represent the first legislative district.

Assemblymen Jay Webber and Robert Clifton and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin were not present for the day’s vote.

In the Senate, the bill passed 23-16. Two Democrats, State Sens. Bob Andrzejczak and Vin Gopal voted against the bill. State Sen. Shirley Turner was not present for the vote.

State Sen. Dawn Addiego, who switched her party affiliation to Democrat on Monday, voted in favor of the measure.

The opposition on the Republican side was focused against the degree of the minimum wage increase rather than being aimed at a minimum wage increase of any kind.

Numerous Republican lawmakers in both chambers said they did not oppose an increase but worried that the bill, which advanced after Senate President Steve Sweeney and Coughlin reached a deal with Murphy on minimum wage, went too far and would end up damaging the state’s economy.

Many of those concerns were shared by business groups in the state, who in committee testified the bill would push businesses to automate and remove jobs.

The bill’s proponents said the bill would ease the burden on New Jersey families while increasing the state’s tax base, with many lawmakers from urban districts making impassioned pleas on behalf of their lower-class constituents.

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