‘Fight publicly, loudly, aggressively’: NJ Gov. Christie vetoes $15 minimum wage bill

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. © Jim Young
A bill to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour has been vetoed by Governor Chris Christie. This is the second time the state’s Democrats pushed for a bigger paycheck for low wage workers only to be turned down by Christie.

"All of this sounds great, raising the minimum wage, when you're spending someone else's money," Christie said at a Pennington grocery store, where he announced his veto. "It should bother you because when you come into Pennington Quality Market your food is going to be more expensive."

The family-owned store, which has been running since 1981, employs 160 people and 24 of them earn minimum wages, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported

It was no coincidence that Christie came to Mike Rothwell’s store. The Garden State governor has been calling on small business owners to “fight publicly, loudly, aggressively,” against the bill.

“It's going to be a big fight. Today is just another round in this fight on the minimum wage,” Christie said.

Democratic legislators had been seeking to gradually raise the state’s hourly minimum wage from $8.38 to at least $15 per hour by 2021. The raise would have begun on January 1, 2017, when the minimum wage would climb to $10.10 an hour.

After 2021, they wanted the minimum wage to increase annually based on changes in the consumer price index and cost of living.

"This type of heavy hand of government, saying that we know better than the people who actually run these businesses, is the reason why in past administrations New Jersey has gotten less and less affordable," Christie said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

Christie’s veto was much anticipated among Democrats, who have said that they are also going to put the issue up as a constitutional amendment to circumvent the governor and leave it up to voters on the 2017 ballot.

Voters last approved raising the wage in 2013, from $7.25 to $8.25, after Christie first vetoed the $1 increase. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour.

So far, only New York, California and Washington, DC have enacted measures to raise their minimums to $15.