Governor Chris Christie said he won’t sign a measure to boost New Jersey’s minimum wage, citing concern over a provision requiring annual adjustments for inflation.
The measure, pushed by Democrats, would raise the hourly wage floor to $8.50 from $7.25. It passed the Assembly in May and is pending in the Senate. Democrats run both chambers.
“We’re telling small business owners that not only are we going to raise their costs by a buck and a quarter, but we’re also going to raise it with these cost-of-living adjustments,” Christie, a 49-year-old Republican, said during a town-hall style meeting in Lyndhurst. “Here’s what’s going to happen -- they’re going to have to lay people off.”
Christie has cited the “Jersey Comeback” in his push to increase state spending and cut income taxes by 10 percent across the board. He said a minimum-wage increase, and automatic raises each year tied to the U.S. consumer price index, would jeopardize that economic turnaround.
The governor also said that Assembly Democrats are “skunks in the garden” by opposing his efforts with Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a West Deptford Democrat, to cut taxes. He said an agreement is near on such a proposal.
Sweeney didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment on Christie’s remarks.
Legislative opponents of Christie’s plan to roll back income taxes have countered with plans to rebate some property levies and raise rates paid by higher-income residents. State revenue has missed budget targets in recent months.
Christie’s administration has said revenue through June 2013 will be $706 million under budget. The Legislature’s policy analysis office has projected a gap of as much as $1.4 billion.
The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis said in a June 5 report that the state’s economic output fell 0.5 percent last year, placing it among the lowest one-fifth of U.S. states.