O’Scanlon: New $15 minimum wage will have a disastrous impact on New Jersey

By Declan O’Scanlon
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This law will have disastrous consequences for our business community and minimum wage workers. It simply goes too far too fast.  I serve on the bipartisan manufacturing caucus and we heard from every single manufacturer that it was impossible for them to absorb this increase without losing jobs.

A hugely important component of this discussion is the effect on our budget. With the fiscal pronouncements that we have made, including the Senate President himself, how can we commit the State to a dramatic impact like the roughly half a billion dollar price tag of this increase? The is inconsistent with the Path to Progress suggestions for lower cost of government. We are digging ourselves deeper into a hole that we already don’t know how to get out of. How can we possibly look our taxpayers in the eye–already the most beleaguered in the nation–no matter how well-intentioned this might be?

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Further, I’ve had service providers for those with developmental disabilities like the Arc in our office terrified about how this will shut down their programs and organizations unless we can give them more funding. These people do the most noble work in the State and serve the most vulnerable among us. They are already operating on a stretched budget, and they simply cannot absorb what this increase will do to their operating costs.

Minimum wage earners will very rapidly find themselves kicked off many of the programs they rely on; CHIP, FamilyCare, LIHEAP, SNAP. All because of a wage increase that they cannot turn down and it’s going to result in a net loss of income for them. These are the sort of negative unintended consequences that we haven’t fully accounted for. Leadership has all but admitted they haven’t fully considered these unintended consequences by setting up a panel to study them. Forging ahead blindly without knowing all of the ways this will impact the very people we are trying to help is irresponsible.

The amount of job loss that we are going to see among small businesses will be tragic.  New Jersey is basically famous for not wanting to pump our own gas. In fact, I’ve previously received phone calls making sure to let me know that ‘Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas’! Well, we better be prepared to start pumping our own gas soon because one of the industries that is bracing for massive losses is our fuel merchants. Local gas station owners testified before us that they cannot sustain employees and keep their businesses open without bringing in self-serve gas.

From a budget hole, to kicking people off their health benefits, to devastating service providers, to leading us towards self-serve gas because of job losses we truly cannot understate the impact that moving this fast is going to have on our State.

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Declan O’Scanlon is a Republican state senator representing New Jersey’s 13th Legislative District.

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