Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32), one of the sponsors of a bill that would’ve raised the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2021, called Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) veto “disappointing, though not unexpected.”
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Creating a livable minimum wage is a key component in the comprehensive strategy we’ve been working on since last year to combat poverty,” Prieto said in a statement. “That makes the Governor’s veto all the more disappointing, though not unexpected.”
“The age-old rhetoric he is relying on also ignores the evidence – a substantial minimum wage increase will help lift countless families out of poverty, decrease government dependency and boost commerce by pumping more dollars back into the economy.”
Christie held a press conference inside a Pennington grocery store this morning to announce he would be vetoing bill A-15, which Prieto and Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19) sponsored in the Assembly and state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20) introduced in the Senate back in February.
The governor rationalized that the bill would “make doing business in New Jersey unaffordable.”
“Approval of Assembly Bill 15 would not only bring New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021, but under the ill-advised constitutional amendment put into place three years ago it would also continue to rise annually there forward based upon the CPI, which is why I believe we never should have put the CPI in in the first place,” Christie said.
“This bill would make New Jersey only the third state in the nation to adopt a minimum wage of $15, and it would trigger an escalation of wages that will make doing business in New Jersey unaffordable.
Prieto argued that today’s minimum wage, $8.38 an hour, “tears families apart” by making them work multiple jobs just to make ends meet.
“Today’s minimum wage does nothing short of tear families apart, forcing them to work multiple jobs just to live hand-to-mouth, while relying on government assistance to make ends meet. Meanwhile, the wealth continues to trickle up, not down,” the Assembly Speaker added.
“Unfortunately, as we said earlier this year, this decision now forces our hand. We gave the Governor the opportunity to do the right thing, but unfortunately he declined. Moving forward, we will turn to voters to let them decide if a fair and just livable wage is the one they want for New Jersey.”
Sweeney also took to Twitter to express his disappointment in the veto: