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Fight for $15: Chris Christie vetoes minimum wage hike in New Jersey

The Republican governor said raising the minimum wage would burden small businesses and described the proposal as the heavy hand of government

Republican Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday vetoed an attempt to raise New Jerseys minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in the next year and to at least $15 an hour over the next five.

Christie said raising the minimum wage would burden small businesses and described the proposal as the heavy hand of government.

Announcing his decision at an event at a market in Pennington, the governor said raising pay was the job of business owners.

All of this sounds great, raising the minimum wage, when youre spending someone elses money, he said.

Democrats, who control the statehouse, and liberal groups have put the legislation at the center of their agenda. The legislature sent Christie the measure in June.

Democratic leaders say they will pursue a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage without the need for Christies approval.

The governors actions have only served to temporarily thwart a unified effort to raise New Jersey families and provide a much needed boost to our economy, said Analilia Mejia, director of the left-leaning group NJ Working Families.

Assembly speaker Vincent Prieto and senate president Steve Sweeney said lawmakers would put the issue to voters in a ballot question. Its too late to make this years ballot; the soonest the measure could appear before voters would be 2017.

I am confident that New Jersey residents will eventually right this wrong, Prieto said.

Voters last approved raising the wage in 2013, from $7.25 to $8.25. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

Mike Rothwell, the owner of the market where Christie vetoed the legislation, said he employs 160 people 45 full time and 115 part time, of whom 15% earn the minimum wage. He cut hours in response to the 2013 minimum wage hike, he said, and would have to again if the wage were raised.

Such a significant mandated wage increase would ultimately hurt small business, he said.

Rothwell said he directed workers not to talk to reporters because some might not have had enough information about the issue. Three workers declined interviews.

Kathy Callahan, of Pennington, caught the end of Christies veto ceremony and said she was a Democrat who opposes Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, whom Christie supports. Minimum-wage jobs should go to entry-level workers who are learning a skill and making some cash on their way to getting a higher education, she said.

Im glad he did (veto it), she said. People that work at McDonalds want $15 an hour to sling burgers?

New Jersey would have become the third state on a direct path toward a $15 an hour minimum wage, the highest in the nation. New York and California passed similar measures. Other states, New Jersey included, have already linked their increased wages to inflation.

State senate president Steve Sweeney said he expects a constitutional amendment to increase the minimum wage could be on the ballot in 2017, when New Jersey voters choose Christies successor.

Christie predicted a public relations fight over a constitutional amendment to raise the wage and encouraged the public to engage.

Its going to be a big fight, he said. Todays just another round.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/30/chris-christie-vetoes-minimum-wage-hike-new-jersey

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