New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed a bill that would have raised New Jersey's minimum wage by $1.25 per hour, while suggesting a scaled back $1 per hour wage increase if Democrats agree to phase it in over three years.
Christie administration officials told The Associated Press about the governor's conditional veto ahead of Monday's deadline for him to act on the proposal.
Christie also called for restoration of a tax credit for the working poor that he trimmed by 5 percent in 2011. If the Earned Income Tax Credit is returned to its pre-2011 level, the average annual benefit would be $550.
“The governor's approach acts on his commitment to deliver real relief to working families in a careful, responsible manner that does not jeopardize New Jersey's economic progress and, as a result, provides assistance to those who need both direct relief and access to sustainable and meaningful job opportunities,” said one official, who was not authorized to speak ahead of the official announcement.
The Democrats' bill called for raising the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour on March 1 and tying automatic yearly increases to the Consumer Price Index. Christie rejected the automatic adjustments.
New Jersey is one of 23 states whose minimum wage is $7.25, the same as the federal minimum. An increase to $8.50 would have put New Jersey third highest, behind only Washington state and Oregon.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a sponsor of the rejected bill, called Christie's action “unacceptable” and “callous.”
She said Democrats have no choice but to pursue a parallel plan to seek voter approval for the proposal in November.
Democrats argued that the current minimum wage is insufficient. The business community said employers can't afford to pay more in a sluggish economy and layoffs would result.