Christie Vetoes Min Wage Bill

New Jersey Governor Kills Assembly Minimum Wage Hike, Proposes His Own More Modest Plan

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

The State House in Trenton, New Jersey.

The State House in Trenton, New Jersey.

Good news and less good news this snowy afternoon, Save Jerseyans.

The Good? Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a ghastly Assembly bill today that would’ve increased New Jersey’s minimum wage by $1.25 per hour and tied future increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). You can read the veto here (pdf).

The Less Good? Governor Christie pitched a counter-proposal of his own. The details are as follows (via an Administration release):

Under Governor Christie’s proposal, New Jersey’s minimum wage earners will receive an immediate raise of twenty-five cents per hour in the first year, followed by a second-year increase of fifty cents, and finally another twenty-five cent per hour increase in the third year. By combining both immediate and long-term increases to minimum wage pay and removing the volatile unpredictability of automatic increases, the Governor’s plan will give workers the relief they need and also give New Jersey’s small businesses a short, but necessary, period to plan for the implementation of a one-dollar increase. This sensible and balanced approach will prevent the layoffs and relocations certain to accompany the Legislature’s current proposal.”

Translated: Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a proposed $1.25 per hour minimum wage increase from the Legislature, preferring an increase that would be just $1 per hour and phased in over a period of three years…

Better than the Democrat proposal? Absolutely! But I can’t help but notice that Cory Booker, Dick Codey and now, as of today, both Steve Sweeney and Bill Pascrell are all OUT of the gubernatorial hunt for 2013. Chris Christie’s only opponent in the hapless Babs Buono. Barring dramatic outside events (which are never impossible), Chris Christie is on the fast track to reelection. The Dems aren’t going to make him a priority, electing to focus on reclaiming Virginia instead.

Why not use some of that built up political capital (70%+ approval in some recent polls) to kill a really bad idea for our state economy?

Like ANY minimum wage increase which essentially functions as a new tax on small business owners? Many of whom are recovering from Superstorm Sandy? They’re the ones who will be forced to pay untrained laborers (like college kids) higher rates this summer. Most family breadwinners aren’t making the minimum wage; that’s a Democrat talking point unrooted in reality. Why aren’t Republicans saying any of this? Instead of just attacking the Democrats’ hike as constructed?

I said it back in November and I’ll say it one more time today, folks: now is a time for courage and leadership (and creativity, too). New Jersey Republicans need to shift gears and start attacking the substance of Democrat policies rather than restrict their primary objections to the procedural issues.

We’ve discussed the economics of this issue ad nauseum here at Save Jersey, my friends. This is a strategic question… enough defense! Compromise is a good thing when both parties act in good faith.

Compromise is also something which comes after you’ve staked out your principled position and engaged in a public debate; every time we adopt a bad liberal premise (like the reasonableness of a minimum wage law), that’s territory which we never reclaim. And it’s the taxpayers who pay for our mistake. 

New Jersey GOP candidates face a tough map this fall, with or without their Governor leading the ticket. We’re never going to save this state unless we show a little confidence in our arguments! Let’s start teaching again or get used to permanent minority status… the choice is ours to make.