January 24, 2019
The Assembly Labor Committee advanced a measure Thursday that increases the state minimum wage to $15 an hour, following several hours of sometimes emotional testimony from social justice organizations, lawmakers, minimum wage employees, and business owners and advocates.
Assembly Bill 15, which the committee approved in a 6-3 vote along party lines, will now head to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Monday, then to a likely full floor vote in both the Assembly and Senate on Jan. 31.
Gov. Phil Murphy said he expects to sign the bill by the end of January, which would mark one of his biggest policy wins since his first ever State of the State address on Jan. 15.
The statewide minimum wage would reach $15 an hour for most workers by 2024 under A15, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District.
“It will lift working individuals and their families out of poverty,” Coughlin testified at the Thursday morning committee. “No one living in New Jersey working full time should be living in poverty. This will take the next step in making sure that doesn’t occur.”
Coughlin, Murphy and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, struck a deal on minimum wage on Jan. 17, two days after Murphy’s first State of the State address.
Seasonal workers and employees of businesses with less than six workers will see their wage raise to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2026. Seasonal workers could only be employed between May 1 and Sept. 30 under the legislation, which is crafted to apply to workers at beach-related jobs along the Jersey Shore.
Farm workers’ wages will increase to $12.50 an hour no later than 2024 and tipped workers will see the minimum rate go up from $2.13 an hour to $5.13 an hour.
A15 also sets aside $10 million of tax credits to incentivize employers to hire workers with disabilities.
Under the proposed tax credit, if a business has to pay a disabled employee more in the current year than they did prior year, because of the wage increase, that employer could count the pay difference as a tax credit against the taxes the employer already owes. The tax credit would be applicable to any wages paid after Jan. 1, 2019.