The natural opposition to a $15 minimum wage for N.J. is divided

TRENTON, NJ — Next summer? Jersey Jersey small business owners may need to pay teenagers $15 per hour to flip burgers, sweep floors, and hawk sunglasses on our state’s boardwalks. Thousands of workers in all 21 counties may find their hours cuts. Some may even lose their jobs, particularly in the seasonal sector.

But the groups most likely to oppose what looks like a united New Jersey Democrat front on a job-killing $15 minimum wage offered somewhat less-than-stringent pushback on Thursday, increasing the odds of an easy Leftist victory. 

“This proposal on minimum wage is misguided and will hurt the people who it is meant to help. New Jersey recently ranked at rock bottom in a national survey for the cost of doing business, and our policymakers should be devising ways to counter that,” said Laurie Ehlbeck, NFIB’s state director in New Jersey, in perhaps the most unequivocally negative reaction to the Democrat proposal.

The N.J. Chamber of Commerce, which is usually in league with the decidedly anti-commerce Democrat majority, was downright accepting of the hike, asking only that the $15 mandate not come all at once.

“The NJ Chamber agrees that any minimum wage increase must be phased in over a reasonable period of time so businesses can plan accordingly and absorb the financial impact,” said liberal activist and NJ Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken, who also supported the October 2016 gas tax hike.

The factual basis for the Chamber’s preference for a gradual increase is unclear; the phased-in approach is also the plan in New York, D.C., Massachusetts and California, but the $15 minimum wage phased-in approach failed spectacularly in the liberal stronghold of Seattle, Washington.

“A report from the University of Washington (UW), found that when wages increased to $13 in 2016, some companies may have responded by cutting low-wage workers’ hours. The study, which was funded in part by the city of Seattle, found that workers clocked 9% fewer hours on average, and earned $125 less each month after the most recent increase,” reported USA Today last summer.

Undeterred by economic realities, Governor Phil Murphy and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin announced their agreement to work towards a $15 minimum wage on Thursday. Murphy pledged to raise the current $8.60 to $15 back during the 2017 gubernatorial campaign; Coughlin told reporters at Thursday’s press conference that he’s going to post a bill, but that the precise language is still being discussed.

Meanwhile, the Republican legislative leadership implored Murphy, whose autocratic ‘progressive’ policies are drawing national attention, to consider a compromise with the minority.

“The Governor has called for a flat $15 minimum wage, which many in the Legislature think will reduce job opportunities and hurt farmers and small businesses,” said Tom Kean Jr., the State Senate’s top Republican. “Similarly, the Legislature has called for pension and benefit reforms to lower the cost of government, which the Governor believes may harm dedicated public employees. There are middle-ground approaches that would allow us to make progress on these issues we all care about, while minimizing undesirable consequences. If we can all show that we’re open to reaching a consensus on these reforms, I know that we can make New Jersey more affordable.”