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Minimum Wage Hike Battle Continues [POLL/AUDIO]

The battle over the minimum wage hike continues.

House Speaker Sheila Oliver & Senate President Steve Sweeney look on as Governor Christie addresses the Legislature
House Speaker Sheila Oliver & Senate President Steve Sweeney look on as Governor Christie addresses the Legislature (Tim Larsen,Governor’s Office)

Senate President Steve Sweeney continues to push for the minimum wage hike to be put to voters next fall as part of a ballot referendum. Governor Christie insists it should be a statutory issue, not a constitutional one.

Sweeney wants to amend the state constitution to increase the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour and tie that into the rate of inflation.

“What happens if we want to decrease it…what happens if we want to freeze the consumer price index at one point…we would have to go back to the ballot to do that.”

In a recent guest column in the Star Ledger, Sweeney said we need to take the minimum wage issue out of the political arena.

“Not only would this provide a needed increase now, but it also would help families living on the bare edge of poverty to meet a rising cost of living. Most importantly, it would take politics and politicians out of the discussion” Sweeney wrote.

He compared this issue to others that have put on the ballot in recent years, including legalizing bingo and casino gambling.

But Christie says those were issues that had to be done by amending the constitution.

“You can do minimum wage by statute. Anything that I have suggested go on the ballot has been things that had to be done constitutionally, including bail reform and changing pension and benefits for judges.”

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver has not made her position known yet, whether she is for or against a ballot referendum.

“Sheila and Steve need to get together and come to an agreement between the two of them and then come to me and talk. I have said I would consider a minimum wage bill as part of a larger economic growth package” Christie said.

“When they figure out what they want, they can come and talk to me about it…they may be surprised who knows” he added.

 

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