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As Expected, Governor Christie Vetoes The New Jersey’s The Minimum Wage Increase.

January 30, 2013

By James R. Costello, II

On Monday, January 28, 2013, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed Bill S3/A2162, which would have raised the New Jersey minimum wage to $8.50 per hour and tied future increases automatically to the Consumer Price Index. A conditional veto is a veto in which the Governor objects to parts of a bill and proposes amendments that would make it acceptable. If the Legislature re-enacts the bill with the recommended amendments, it is presented again to the Governor for signature.

Bill S3/A2162 passed the New Jersey State Assembly on May 24, 2012 and was approved by the New Jersey Senate on November 19, 2012. In vetoing the measure Governor Christie explained, “The sudden, significant minimum-wage increase in this bill, coupled with automatic raises each year tied to the Unites States consumer price index, will jeopardize the economic recovery we all seek.” However, at the same time Governor Christie proposed incremental increases of the minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 per hour to $8.25 per hour over the next three years.

Governor Christie’s veto creates the possibility that Democrats in the state legislature will attempt to raise the minimum wage by enacting a state constitutional amendment that would bypass the Governor and seek approval by the electorate. Bill ACR-168/SCR-1 proposed a constitutional amendment which, like the legislation just vetoed by the Governor, raised the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour and tied automatic future increases to the Consumer Price Index. That bill, passed in the Assembly on November 19, 2012 and won Senate approval on December 17, 2012. If that legislation is reintroduced in the next legislative term and wins the approval of both houses again, it will be placed on the next general ballot for a popular vote. If Bill ACR-168/SCR-1 then receives a majority of the popular vote, it will become an amendment to New Jersey’s Constitution.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a Democrat, immediately reacted harshly to the Governor’s conditional veto, and suggested that she supported the constitutional amendment option, declaring, “Governor Christie has again failed hard-working New Jerseyans. This conditional veto is unacceptable. Any proposal that lacks annual adjustments to ensure wages keep pace with the economy is not a real solution. Governor Christie’s callous action leaves us no choice but to send this matter to the voters.”

This blog will keep you posted on the latest developments in New Jersey’s continuing minimum wage saga.

For more information regarding this or other labor and employment issues, please contact James R. Costello, II, member of Schnader’s Labor and Employment Practices Group.

The materials posted on Schnader.com and SchnaderWorks.com are prepared for informational purposes only and should not be considered as providing legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship. Please see our disclaimer page for a full explanation.

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