Top legislative leaders announce agreement on $15 minimum wage legislation

Gov. Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin announced Thursday afternoon that an agreement was reached on legislation that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. The agreement comes after months of negotiations and two days after Murphy’s first State of the State address.

If passed, the bill would raise wages for over 1 million workers.

“Today, we are taking a historic step to provide more than one million New Jersey workers a stronger foothold in the middle class,” Murphy said in a press release. “Putting the minimum wage on a clear and responsible path to $15/hour is good for workers, good for our businesses, and good for our economy. A higher minimum wage strengthens all of New Jersey. I thank Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin for their commitment to this issue, and look forward to signing this legislation into law.”

One area of contention during negotiations were carve outs for farm workers, teenagers and seasonal workers.

The bill agreed upon by the New Jersey’s top legislators will increase the wages for farm workers to $12.50 within five years, making it the highest wage for farm worker in the Northeast. The plan includes tax credits for employers who hire people with disabilities, which will support the further integration into the workplace of those with disabilities, giving them the opportunity for meaningful employment and providing employers with highly motivated workers. It also includes a ‘parity’ provision that will provide additional increases for small business and seasonal workers.

Under the legislation, the base minimum wage for New Jersey workers would increase to $10 an hour on July 1, 2019. By Jan. 1, 2020, the statewide minimum wage would increase to $11 an hour, and then would increase by $1 every hour every Jan. 1 until it reaches $15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2024.

“This is a progressive plan to elevate New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 so that workers have a fair wage that allows them to support themselves and their families,” said Sweeney. “This plan will put New Jersey in the forefront of the national movement to build a high-wage economy.