Exterior shot of NJ State House with gold dome.

Raising the minimum wage has widespread support in New Jersey, and proponents of a $15 minimum wage are hoping to ride that support toward a substantial increase next year.

But public support for a minimum wage increase does not mean the public wants to see it rise dramatically. Some legislators in both parties have recognized this and, in recent days, have offered alternatives to the $15 minimum wage.

Democratic Sen. Vin Gopal announced Dec. 11 that he planned to introduce legislation for a $12-an-hour minimum wage to be phased in between 2019 and 2021. It would exempt agriculture workers, seasonal workers, new small businesses (in operation less than three years), employees in on-the-job training programs and those under 18. These workers would receive a minimum wage of $9.25, Gopal said.

“We must consider the constraints on small and seasonal businesses who often rely on minimum wage workers,” Gopal said. “Our local mom-and-pop shops will not able to afford the short-term $15 minimum wage that some of my colleagues are pushing for.”

On the Republican side, Assemblymen Anthony Bucco Jr. and Hal Wirths are proposing a $13-an-hour minimum wage and an increase in the earned income tax credit to 80 percent.

Bucco pointed out that raising the minimum wage without indexing the state’s income tax brackets could punish low-income earners by offsetting the potential pay raise with higher taxes. Bucco sponsors a bill that would adjust income-tax brackets to inflation so taxpayers don’t face tax hikes as a result of cost-of-living raises.

“As our low-income earners begin to see an increase in their salary they get pushed into the next tax bracket where they are now earning less,” Bucco said.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has introduced a bill that would reach $15 in 2024 for most workers, and provide slower increases for small businesses, seasonal employment, youth and agriculture workers.

5 responses to “Legislators Offer Alternatives to $15 Minimum Wage”

  1. Bob P. says:

    There are many business markets that rely on lower wage scale workers to perform simple tasks requiring no more than a high school or GED diploma. These employers will shut down, because New Jersey continues to escalate business costs that their clients can no longer absorb: Sales tax, PPACA, NJ Sick Leave, and now a huge bump in the minimum wage. The real problem residents cannot afford to live in New Jersey is becsaue of the property taxes, where nearly 75% of our tax bills go to the education system. You would think New Jersey’s education system would be first in class for the cost, but NO. Politicians are afraid to address this most important fact for fear of the teachers union and not getting re-elected. Here comes inflation that not even POT revenue can save us from.

  2. Donald W Wicklund says:

    They should just leave things alone that they obviously do not understand. Sure it would be great for everyone to get a sixty or seventy percent raise in a short period of time but that’s not how things work. Are they working for more votes to keep their jobs or are they just having a great time to see if they can destroy the States economy because it might be fun to do. I just don’t get it. Where are the people in charge with some common sense?

  3. Dan Hertz says:

    Murphy is encouraging this minimum wage nonsense. He is a real Robin Hood, stealing what is not his and purchasing popularity with it, all done under the color of law. Watch our governor, he has his eye on presidency. He is going to become a hero at the NJ job makers’ expense. Our State politicians need to tackle out-of-control expenses (i.e. education, just look at your tax receipt if you don’t believe this!) and start catering to the job makers who can create good paying jobs that out-compete neighboring states. Our Governor needs to lead the effort but he is clearly more interested in building his personal political base for a bigger prize. Until we get some real leaders who care more about the State and less about the unions (and their political ambitions), affordability of life in NJ will continue to decline.

  4. Jack says:

    I’m not sure this bill is any better than what has been proposed. Small Business definition needs to be the same as before, ie any business that has less than 10 employees working on any given day for the majority of the year. Unless that definition holds then wages for small guys like us would increase more rapidly than in the Dems proposal

  5. Joe says:

    Really sounds like NJBIA is for this wage increase to $15 hr well guess what as I told our Liberal Seattle loving Gov its a JOB KILLER.. My business will cut 30 % of workforce and the businesses I talked to some will cut about the same.. Theres no need for $15hr for SMALL businesses under 50 employees.. So another issue I have is It would exempt agriculture workers, seasonal workers, new small business. Thats a joke why cause SWEENEYS district is farmers.. NJ is so corrupt to tell us who and what are except.. well Im a small business will way more staff than I need but Im helping people work and because of this Left wing $15hr occupy Bull crap I have to lay people off.. I really hope the NJBIA isn’t for the $15hr hike do the math it will cost us $18hr is taxes worker comp etc …