POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Is Murphy’s minimum wage ad drawing ire in Trenton?

BY Andrew Schmertz, Correspondent |

Gov. Phil Murphy may be on vacation on another continent, but you can still see him on TV and on YouTube campaigning for a $15 minimum wage.

The Democratic governor and Democratic lawmakers are sparring not over whether there should be a $15 minimum wage, but how long it should take to be phased in. Murphy wants it implemented faster than lawmakers have proposed, and he’s hoping to sway the public in the slickly-produced ads.

“He’s got a purpose to this. He wants the $15 minimum wage — that’s what he’s pitching. I don’t know how effective it is because we won’t know unless we know if people out there are actually calling and writing to their representatives to get them to vote for what he wants. But he got a message here, and it’s something he wants, and he’ll probably get it,” said Nick Acocella, editor of Politifax.’s

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin is proposing to phase in the minimum wage hike over a 7-year period to soften the impact on small businesses.

On Jan. 1, the minimum wage will go up to $8.85. Under the Assembly proposal, it will then go up to $9.50 on July 1. In 2020, it will rise to $11, and it will continue to rise until it hits $15 in 2024.

Farm and seasonal workers, small businesses with fewer than 10 employees, and workers under 18 would be exempted until 2029. Murphy has called that delay a bone in his throat.

Senate President Steve Sweeney, who’s battled with the governor over a number of issues all year, responded to Murphy’s latest ads Monday in a statement: “His politics, he has to explain. I can’t explain his politics,” he told NJTV News. “I look forward to him coming back and us finishing our negotiations on it. We all felt we were very close to a final agreement … I thought we would get a deal done before the holiday.”

Amping up the pressure on the governor and lawmakers? Across the river, New York City’s minimum wage rose to $15 Monday with fewer exceptions.

It’s not the first time the governor has used campaign-style ads to push for his agenda. It’s a move that’s not particularly popular with lawmakers. The governor deployed the ads, paid for by the pro-Murphy PAC New Direction New Jersey during budget negotiations last spring.

“Yes, it annoys them. I mean, instead of dealing directly with the legislators and the legislative leadership, he’s going over their heads,” Acocella said.

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association has voiced concerns about the higher minimum wage, saying it will lead to businesses cutting hours for workers and could result in higher prices for consumers.

But with Democrats controlling the entire state government, a higher minimum wage seems inevitable — with or without the highly-produced TV ads.