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New Jersey legislature passes bill to increase minimum wage gradually

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TRENTON, N.J. -- The New Jersey Senate and Assembly passed identical bills to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024.

A signature by Governor Phil Murphy would mean a minimum wage of $10 by July 1. It will then rise by $1 every year until hitting $15. But small business workers, farm laborers and seasonal workers will see the wage rise on a slower schedule, hitting $15 an hour in 2026.

“Raising the minimum wage is actually good for the business community, it’s good for the State of New Jersey and most importantly, it’s good for the people who benefit from it,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, a Democrat and key sponsor of the bill.

Meanwhile, Republicans and small business owners have warned this wage hike will force layoffs, hike prices and hurt the state’s economy.

“They simply don’t have the wallet,” said Republican State Assemblyman Jon Bramnick.

“And how they will adjust is by raising prices,” said Republican Senator Gerald Cardinale.

But both houses are controlled by Democrats, so the bill was passed overwhelmingly.

“I would challenge everyone in here to try to live in New Jersey on $30,000 a year,” said democratic Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake.

Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour was a key campaign promise by Governor Phil Murphy, who has said he is eager to sign the bill.

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