By. Asbury Park Sun
Local dignitaries and members of Working Families United for New Jersey, Inc.’s “Raise the Wage” coalition held a press conference Friday to assemble public support in favor of a ballot question that asks voters whether they would like to raise the state’s minimum wage, according to a news release from Congressman Frank Pallone’s office.
The current state minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. If a majority of voters throughout the state vote yes on ballot question two, the minimum wage would be raised to $8.25 per hour with annual adjustments made for cost of living increases tied to the Consumer Price Index [CPI].
Pallone along with Asbury Park Mayor Myra Campbell, Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, Neptune Township Mayor Eric Houghtaling and numerous coalition partners including labor, student, civic and women’s groups spoke out in favor of the question, the release said.
“All New Jerseyans who care about residents having the ability to support their families should vote yes on ballot question two” said Charles N. Hall, Jr., chairman of Working Families United for New Jersey, Inc. “Minimum wage workers that have more money and are going to spend it locally.”
“While I have been fighting in congress to raise the federal minimum wage, New Jersey residents can take the lead and vote yes on ballot question number two on Nov. 5,” said Pallone.
Those who oppose the measure, including Thomas A. Bracken, chairman of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, argue that while they are not in opposition to raising the state minimum wage, tying annual increases to the CPI does more harm to the economy than it does good.
“What we oppose is using the state constitution to institutionalize private-sector fiscal decisions,” Bracken wrote in his president’s message in the last issue of “Enterprise,” the state chamber’s quarterly magazine. “Under this amendment, the minimum wage would be permanently taken out of the hands of future administrators, legislators and employers. Annual rates would be automatically granted without considering whether the economy is strong or weak, or whether the market warrants the increases.”
Local mayors are, however, in favor of voting to increase the wage. They believe the increase in worker’s paychecks will increase spending and boost the local business economy.
“I urge Asbury Park residents to fully support ballot question number two,” said Campbell. “There has been much talk about the economic security of business owners. Passing this measure provides some economic security for workers to provide for their families and spend this additional money at local shore businesses.”
“Everyone in our community benefits from raising the minimum wage” said Houghtaling. “Workers will have more money to spend and they will spend it at local businesses. It’s a win-win.”