EDITORIAL: Support ballot questions

Two statewide questions will be before voters when they go to the polls for the general election Tuesday, Nov. 5, and we urge support for both.

One is a constitutional amendment that would raise the current $7.25 minimum wage – called a “starvation wage” by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono – to $8.25 with annual adjustments for inflation beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The measure also would add automatic yearly increases based on the Consumer Price Index.

How can we end poverty in this state - which is currently at a 50-year high - when some people who are working 40 hours a week qualify for food stamps and can’t support their families?

We know New Jersey needs to stay competitive with its neighbors. But New York already plans to raise its minimum wage to $8 on Dec. 31, to $8.75 by the end of 2014 and later to $9 an hour by the end of 2015, so approving this referendum question will not make us uncompetitive.

Over the past several decades, the state’s minimum wage has been raised rarely and episodically, and has not kept up with the cost of living; this gradual increase tied to the inflation rate will be one that consumers and business owners will rarely see.

Even Gov. Christie, who opposes this specific measure, agrees with the need to increase the minimum wage; he preferred a $1 increase spread out over three years and rejected the yearly inflation adjustments.

New Jersey’s minimum wage has not been increased since 2005, but the cost of living here continues to rise. This measure assures a living wage, not a poverty wage, while also potentially stimulating the economy through increased purchasing power of rank-and-file workers, hard-hit by the economic downturn and able to find only low-paying employment.

The other question on the Nov. ballot similarly deserves a resounding “Yes.”

Public Question 1, also a constitutional amendment, would allow veterans’ organizations to use money collected from existing games of chance, such as bingo, raffles and lotteries, to support their organizations.

Right now the state constitution allows proceeds from games of chance to be used only for educational, charitable, patriotic, religious or public-spirited purposes. Currently, only senior citizen groups have an exemption to use the money for their own benefit. Veterans’ posts and halls are fixtures in many of our communities, sponsoring parades for our towns and scholarships for our young people, but many have fallen on hard times. This bill would allow veterans’ posts to tap into a new source of revenue to cover their bills. It’s the least we can do for the men and women who have put their lives on the line for us.

Support the two statewide questions on this year’s ballot.

Original Article

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