New Jersey Business & Industry Association CEO and President Michele Siekerka says proposals for a $15 minimum wage recently put forth by some New Jersey lawmakers “will impact the state’s economic climate and be a direct hit on New Jersey’s small businesses.”On Tuesday, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Cherry Hill) each announced plans for bills calling for gradual increases of both the state and federal minimum wages to $15 per hour.
Those plans came roughly a week after Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus) and Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) announced their own intentions of hiking the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.
“The current proposal represents an accumulated 79 percent rise in the minimum wage over the phase-in period and would increase the cost of doing business at a time when the state is just recovering from the recession with three years of slow and steady growth,” Siekerka said. “The mere mention of a minimum wage increase chills investment and job growth.”
New Jersey’s current minimum wage, which sits at $8.38 per hour, and all future increases and decreases were constitutionally tied to the consumer price index through a voter referendum passed in 2013. Business groups, which largely opposed the 2013 decision, have criticized the notion of reopening the discussion once again.
“The business community has just adapted to the recent constitutionally mandated minimum wage hike; now there is a proposal to go back to the voters just three short years after the constitution was amended on this very same issue,” said Siekerka. “Making law by constitutional amendment is simply not good public policy.”
Siekerka said the latest proposal, combined with the looming threats posed to the business community by the paid sick leave bill and the desire of some lawmakers to constitutionally mandate pension payments, “completes the legislative trifecta.”
“Before moving on proposals such as these, policymakers should determine the true economic impact of these policies on the business climate and overall economy before moving forward with them,” Siekerka said.