TRENTON, N.J. – There was plenty of opposition to the minimum wage bill passed by Democrats today. Though they were not opposed to a minimum wage increase, Republicans characterized the bill as irresponsible.
Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick spoke about the risk to mom-and-pop businesses and the limited job opportunities for teens that will result from an above market-rate wage.
“Let’s do this right,” exclaimed Bramnick (R-Union). “Let’s make the right exceptions that were brought by some people who were knowledgeable and run small businesses. People that have the heart, but not the wallet to do what this legislature wants to do today.”
Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco was disappointed that Democrats decided to negotiate the minimum wage bill alone. He said there were options that would have reached the same goals and been less burdensome for businesses and local governments.
“There was a way to fashion this bill so that we could get to an effective fifteen-dollar minimum wage without actually having to pay the fifteen dollars,” said Bucco (R-Morris). “There is no provision for a temporary pause button if the economy goes south. There is no carve-out for municipalities and counties. These are all reasonable suggestions.”
Assemblyman John DiMaio said that the minimum wage bill passed along partisan lines will crowd-out younger workers, strain not-for-profit nursing facilities and hamper the state economy.
“We are really pushing the limit here with regard to facilities that we need and costs are going to come back and cause more financial stress on the state of New Jersey,” said DiMaio (R-Warren). “This bill will cause inflation, it’s going to cause products that everybody buys at every level of the income strata to go up in price and they may not be better off than they are now.”
Assemblyman Kevin Rooney lamented the fact that Democrats were raising the minimum wage but hypocritically raising taxes that would increase the cost of living and the cost of doing business. He called out the speaker and Senate President for vowing not to raise taxes but doing so anyway.
“What we are trying to do here today is raise the minimum wage to effectuate change and allow people to have a better living in this state,” said Rooney (R-Bergen). “It is incumbent upon all of us when we vote today to remember that in the future if we continue to raise taxes in this state we will do harm to the people we are trying to protect.”
Assemblyman Joe Howarth advocated for the farmers in his district who have seasonal employees that they treat especially well. They provide their workers with housing and food as benefits of helping on the farm, but if this bill passes Howarth says that the farmers will automate.
“If this bill passes today, it will force these farmers to go and use machines,” said Howarth (R-Burlington). “Thereby decreasing the yield that they get and also decreasing the amount of profit they will make. It will force layoffs, and we will actually be hurting the people we are trying to help.”