New Jersey fast-food workers who got warm fuzzies when their state introduced a bill similar to New York’s living wage have had those hopes dashed by their governor. Chris Christie vetoed a bill yesterday that would have made Jersey one of only three states with a $15 minimum wage on the books. He called the measure “really radical,” arguing it was “a complete pander to folks who are uninformed because they neither receive the minimum wage or pay it.” Though what’s more radical might be his position, since even the right-of-center New Jersey Business & Industry Association objected to the speed of the bill’s raise (“too much too fast”), not the idea of it.
Jersey’s minimum wage is currently $8.38. Because it increases when the consumer price index does, it didn’t go up in 2016. Democrats who backed the bill say plan B is to sidestep Christie, and let voters decide directly by placing the measure on next year’s fall ballot. Political observers believe voter approval is likely, because the idea of a living wage “polls very well” statewide.
Christie is already warning that if that happens, “the way of the future” will be a New Jersey crawling with fast-food chains and grocery stores that use robots and automated kiosks. “All of this sounds great, raising the minimum wage, when you’re spending someone else’s money,” he said at a press conference inside a supermarket yesterday, but it should bother people “because when you come into [the store] your food is going to be more expensive.” In the meantime, Christie vows he’ll continue to “educate the public on this issue.”