Governor Chris Christie today conditionally vetoed a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.50 per hour and index it to rise automatically with the cost of living every year.

Governor Chris Christie holds press conference about the delay in Hurricane Sandy relief . (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

The conditional veto seeks to reduce the size of the minimum wage increase by $0.25 to $8.25 per hour, introduce a 3-year phase-in, and eliminate altogether the provision for annual cost of living adjustments in future years.

“In these difficult times those most impacted by challenging economic conditions – our state’s working families – need assistance,” says Christie. “Instead of the lopsided approach taken by the Legislature, this plan delivers a responsible, balanced approach that increases the minimum wage by one dollar over a phase-in period of three years, while helping our working families with direct relief through an increase in our state’s Earned Income Tax Credit.”

Christie’s proposal includes a full restoration of the New Jersey Earned Income Tax Credit, first proposed over a year ago in his January 2012 State of the State Address. At 25 percent of the federal tax credit, the state EITC will be increased from the current level of 20 percent of the federal benefit and be fully implemented in taxable year 2014, providing a $550 benefit to the average eligible beneficiary - struggling working families who most need the help.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver says, Governor Christie’s callous action leaves us no choice but to send this matter to the voters. We will now move as required to complete the legislative process on the constitutional amendment and get the question on the ballot this fall.”

State Senate President Steve Sweeney says, "This is just one in series of examples, whether it was vetoing the millionaire's tax or slashing funding for women's health, where the governor has failed to take the side of hard working low and middle income people in New Jersey."

Senate GOP Leader Tom Kean says, “The Governor has rightly rejected a partisan bill to set New Jersey’s minimum wage on auto pilot regardless of the economic circumstances or needs of job creators. The recommendations for changes made in his veto statement are the reasonable and responsible way to increase the minimum wage without telling New Jersey’s business community to, in effect, drop dead.”