New Jersey Minimum Wage Increase Amendment, Public Question 2 (2013)
|Public Question 2|
|Constitution:||New Jersey Constitution|
|Referred by:||New Jersey State Legislature|
- 1 Election results
- 2 Text of measure
- 3 Background
- 4 Support
- 5 Opposition
- 6 Media endorsements
- 7 Polls
- 8 Path to the ballot
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
- 11 Additional reading
- 12 References
The measure set the minimum wage at $8.25 per hour with annual adjustments for inflation beginning January 1, 2014. The minimum wage in the state prior to Question 2 was $7.25; the same as the federal minimum wage. The measure also added automatic yearly increases based on the Consumer Price Index.
"Raise the Wage," supporter of Public Question 2 and a project of the National Employment Law Project, led campaigns on the federal level and in Massachusetts, Maryland, South Dakota, Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, Hawaii and Idaho.
Public Question 2 was the only measure about minimum wage on the 2013 ballot nationwide. However, as of November 5, 2013 at least four states were considering proposals for the 2014 ballot. Those states and proposals include: Alaska, Missouri, New Mexico and South Dakota. Other proposals are filtering through state legislatures.
Prior to 2013, minimum wage last appeared on a state ballot in 2006. Public Question 2 marked the first appearance of minimum wage issues on a New Jersey ballot. Typically, public-policy questions are addressed through the legislature. Ben Dworkin, director of Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics, called the measure "unique" because it was placed on the ballot.
Below are the official election results:
|Public Question 2|
- These results are from the New Jersey Department of State.
Text of measure
The official ballot language read as follows:.
Constitutional amendment to set a state minimum wage with annual cost of living increases.
The interpretive statement of the measure read:
- See also: New Jersey Constitution
Public Question 2 added a new paragraph to Article I of the State Constitution. Read the full text and see the constitutional changes here.
- See also: Minimum wage on the ballot
Other state and national efforts
In January 2013, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a legislative bill to raise the minimum wage. The bill, A2162, called for a $1.25 increase, a 17 percent raise. He also rejected a provision in the bill that called for automatic yearly increases in the minimum wage. Christie proposed adding more funding to the Earned Income Tax Credit. "The sudden, significant minimum-wage increase in this bill, coupled with automatic raises each year tied to the Unites States consumer price index, will jeopardize the economic recovery we all seek," Christie said in his conditional veto of A2162 bill. See the veto here. Christie also proposed phasing in a $1 (14%) increase to the $7.25 minimum over a three year period.
In late 2012, the New Jersey Legislature voted to refer bill SCR 1 to the ballot. The bill was seconded and sent to the ballot after a vote on February 2013, following Christie's veto of A2162. (See the vote details here.) Unlike the vetoed bill, SCR 1 called for a $1 increase in the state's current minimum wage.
The federal minimum wage, as of November 2013, was set at $7.25. That is also the minimum for state minimum wages. However, states are allowed to established higher minimum wages. According to the U.S. Census, the State of Washington held the highest state minimum wage at $9.19. Oregon, with $8.95, had the second highest and Vermont, with $8.60, had the third. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have a minimum wage higher than New Jersey.
New York's 2013 budget included incremental minimum wage rate increases scheduled to take place at the end of 2013, 2014 and 2015. All told, the rate will increase to $9 per hour. In September 2013, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2016. Specifically, the minimum wage was set to rise from $8 to $9 on July 1, 2014. On January 1, 2016 the wage was set to rise again from $9 to $10 per hour.
On Labor Day 2013 fast-food employees held nationwide strikes seeking increases in minimum wage.
New Jersey minimum wage history
|New Jersey minimum wage (1972-2013)|
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Raise the Wage Campaign supported the amendment. Raise the Wage was a project of the National Employment Law Project. Supporters of the campaign argued that raising the minimum wage "would boost the economy while providing better opportunities for hundreds of thousands of working New Jerseyans." Raise the Wage also led campaigns on the federal level and in Massachusetts, Maryland, South Dakota, Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, Hawaii and Idaho.
- See here for more campaign videos and ads created in support to Public Question 2.
Primary sponsors of SCR 1, which was referred to the ballot as Public Question 2, included: Senators Stephen Sweeney (D-3), Shirley Turner (D-15) and Assemblymen Sheila Oliver (D-34), Timothy Eustace (D-38) and Grace Spencer (D-29). Co-sponsors included: Senators Teresa Ruiz, Brian Stack, Linda Greenstein, Richard Codey and Assemblymen Patrick Diegnan, Cleopatra Tucker and Gabriela Mosquera.
- Raise the Wage Campaign
- Working Families United for New Jersey, which included a coalition of 255 groups, including labor unions, anti-poverty organizations, churches and the NAACP of Bergen County.
- New Jersey Education Association
- Roselle Borough Council
- New Jersey Workers' Voices
- Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop
- Mount Holly Township Council
- Bergen County Freeholder Board
- U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D)
- 2013 gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono (D)
Real Voices - Liborio Says "Yes" to Raising the Minimum Wage. (September 23, 2013)
- Roselle Borough Council passed a resolution in mid-September 2013 in support of Public Question 2. "This increase would directly affect 241,000 workers currently making between $7.25 and $8.25 per hour. The gap is almost $1,000 per year for pressing needs like food, rent, clothing and other essential household items," said Roselle Mayor Jamel C. Holley.
- Roselle Borough worked with Working Families United for New Jersey, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy group, to develop the resolution.
- Alicia D’Alessandro, Chair of New Jersey Workers’ Voices, said, "On November 5, when we head to polls to elect a Governor, our state Senator, and our two members of the General Assembly, we will also vote on Ballot Question 2. A YES vote on Ballot Question 2 will raise the wage from $7.25 to $8.25 and tie future increases to the cost of living. Raising the minimum wage will make a huge impact in the lives of New Jersey’s lowest paid workers."
- Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said, "This is a critical step toward enhancing the lives of our working families. We know that our working families support our local economy and these hard-working men and women deserve pay equal to their work."
- Charles Hall Jr., chairman of Working Families United for New Jersey, said, "We're concerned about low-income workers who are basically struggling to live in the state of New Jersey, with the cost of living."
- New Jersey Education Association supported SCR 1. Arguments in support of the bill included:
Yes on Question 2 (October 21, 2013)
- "Reasons to Vote Yes" as stated in the League of Women Voters description of the Public Question 2:
- U.S. Senator Cory Booker said, "The problem today is: social mobility in our country is going down. More and more of our families are finding themselves trapped in dead-end jobs. People all over the state, what they are seeing is: Everything is going up. Rent is going up, gas is going up. Everything is going up but their wages."
- Barbara Buono, 2013 gubernatorial candidate, said, "It's hard to imagine that in 2013, people working have to live on $7.25 an hour. That's not a living wage. That's a starving wage."
- New Jersey Policy Perspective president Gordon MacInnes said, "The business lobby's arguments against giving New Jersey's low-wage workers a leg up with a modest increase in the minimum wage just aren't supported by facts or history. The sky won't fall, jobs won't be lost and the economy won't collapse if we treat workers who are struggling to get by in this high-cost state with respect."
- New Jersey Main Street Alliance respresentative Corinne Horowitz said, "Real small business owners across New Jersey support raising the minimum wage. Business owners who work shoulder-to-shoulder with their employees know them and care about them and they also know that $7.25 isn't enough to live on in New Jersey."
- As of October 24, 2013, The Fund for Jobs, Growth and Security, a largely union-funded, Washington D.C. Super PAC spent $686,000 in support of Public Question 2.
- Working Families United for New Jersey reportedly posted 37 billboards in support of Public Question 2 in the cities of Newark, New Brunswick, Jersey City and Plainfield.
- As of November 4, 2013, $1.3 million was raised by supporters of Public Question 2.
Opponents said that the measure could have negative economic consequences for the state that lead to a loss of low-income jobs. Opponents also argued that minimum wage laws should be kept out of the state constitution where they are harder to change should the need arise. The website "Liberty and Prosperity" pointed out, "The question not only increases the minimum wage this one time, it establishes a permanent mechanism in the state constitution to increase the minimum wage on a regular basis."
The Employment Policies Institute launched "Minimumwage.com" which featured videos, graphics and myths about minimum wage nationwide.
New Jersey Minimum Wage Hike -- Bad Idea (July 9, 2013)
- See here for more campaign videos and ads created in opposition to Public Question 2.
- Gov. Chris Christie
- New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce
- National Federation of Independent Businesses
- New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association (NJGCA)
- New Jersey Retail Merchants Association
- New Jersey Business and Industry Association
- New Jersey Farm Bureau
- The Employment Policies Institute
- In 2012, when bills in support of increasing the state minimum wage were being discussed in the state legislature Gov. Chris Christie said, "I will oppose amending our constitution, that is just a stupid way to do it, that is not what the constitution is there for."
- Christie vetoed bill A2162 which proposed annual automatic increases and an immediate increase by $1.25.
- Thomas A. Bracken, the president and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said in an editorial, "The New Jersey Chamber and the business community recognize that competitive wages are an important part of attracting and retaining a top-notch workforce. A fair minimum wage is a key component of this, and it should be set by our elected legislators and governor through debate and careful consideration — and not automatically raised in perpetuity via a constitutional amendment." Bracken also notes that the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is not opposed to raising the minimum wage. "What we oppose is using the state constitution to institutionalize private-sector fiscal decisions," he said.
Business groups oppose minimum wage hike. Press Conference June 26, 2013.
- NFIB New Jersey State Director Laurie Ehlbeck said, "Ninety-three percent of our members said this was a big problem for them, and that they wanted us to continue to fight this. I’m spending my time this summer trying to educate my members, educate voters and let people understand why this is a bad thing for the economy and business in New Jersey. It’s not like they’re going to raise the minimum wage and all of a sudden people are going to have more money. Either the cost of the product or service [offered] is going to go up, or they’re going to hire less people or decrease benefits."
- New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association Executive Director Sal Risalvato opposed Public Question 2. The company was one of the first industry advocates to publicly announce their opposition.
- John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, said, "Of course if you ask anybody should people make more money, the majority of people are going to say yes. But when you ask should that be in the state constitution, and should there be automatic increases — when you ask those questions I think you see that support erode."
- The Employment Policies Institute's Michael Saltsman, a research director for the institute, said, "The proposal on the ballot this fall takes that power out of the Legislature’s hands. Not only would the minimum wage rise automatically in almost every year, but the Legislature would be powerless to stop it from increasing in years when the labor market is in a slump and the additional wage mandate would make it worse. Congress learned the lesson about the consequences of wage mandates in a down economy the hard way. A three-step increase in the minimum wage was enacted in early 2007, when the U.S. economy had not yet entered the Great Recession. By the time the third increase was scheduled to take place, in 2009, the unemployment rate for young adults stood at 24.7 percent."
- "Reasons to Vote No" as stated in the League of Women Voters description of the Public Question 2:
As of November 4, 2013, the Coalition to Preserve Jobs and Our Constitution, Inc., raised $955,984. They bought newspaper and TV ads and distributed 5,000 lawn signs.
| Total campaign cash |
as of November 4, 2013
|Coalition to Preserve Jobs and Our Constitution, Inc.||$955,984|
- Daily Journal said, "A higher minimum wage in New Jersey is necessary for many workers struggling to put food on the table for their families and keep their heads above water. That’s why voters should approve the referendum in November, raising the minimum wage by $1 and tying automatic annual adjustments to the Consumer Price Index. It’s the right thing and will help the most vulnerable, low-wage workers in the state."
- New Jersey Hills newspapers said, "We know New Jersey needs to stay competitive with its neighbors. But New York already plans to raise its minimum wage to $8 on Dec. 31, to $8.75 by the end of 2014 and later to $9 an hour by the end of 2015, so this referendum will not make us uncompetitive[...]New Jersey’s minimum wage has not been increased since 2005, but the cost of living here continues to rise. This measure assures a living wage, not a poverty wage, while also potentially stimulating the economy through increased purchasing power of rank and file workers, hard hit by the economic downtown and only able to find low-paying employment."
- Courier-Post said, "Some argue a minimum-wage increase, while perhaps necessary, should be left to lawmakers rather than enshrined in the state constitution. And perhaps that would be ideal — if you’d prefer tying raises to the whims of politicians over pegging it to the economy. Opponents argue that a higher minimum wage means higher prices. And it will, a bit. But we’re already paying a high price for low-paying jobs, in the form of food stamps and welfare for people whose full-time jobs aren’t enough. Voting “yes” on Nov. 5 can only help.
- The Star-Ledger said, "Time to fix this. The ballot question would bump the wage to $8.25 an hour, and adjust it each year for inflation, as several other states do. Gov. Chris Christie and the NJBIA have objected to enshrining this policy in the state constitution, as this ballot measure would. But that’s Christie’s fault for vetoing this bill in the first place. He left the Legislature no choice but to go around him directly to voters. In our view, this is not a close call. It’s past time to give these underpaid workers some relief."
- The Times of Trenton said, "Remember, these workers are also consumers – any extra income will go right back into the local economy. And the vast majority, an estimated 80 percent, are not teenagers earning pocket money, but adults desperately trying to achieve that first rung on the ladder of success. With the real value of their earnings steadily ebbing, many are trying to climb out of poverty, to reach at least the outlying districts of the rapidly shrinking middle class. The odds are stacked against them, but voting yes for the minimum wage on Tuesday will help."
- The New York Times said, "Other states have already moved to increase the wages for workers with the lowest incomes. New York has approved a law raising the minimum in steps until wages reach $9 an hour by the end of 2015. Washington State already has a $9.19 minimum. Vermont’s minimum is $8.60. California will go to $10 an hour by 2016. New Jersey residents should follow suit and help struggling families by voting Tuesday to raise the state’s minimum wage."
- The Press of Atlantic City said, "Public Question No. 2 on the Nov. 5 ballot, which asks voters whether the minimum wage should be raised to $8.25 an hour, may seem like an easy call. At $7.25 an hour, New Jersey's current minimum wage amounts to just more than $15,000 a year - hardly a living wage. But unfortunately, a closer look at this question reveals its fatal flaws and why voters should reject it[...]In asking voters to put automatic increases in the constitution, lawmakers are reaching too far. That's a shame. But future policymakers should have the flexibility to adjust the minimum wage in response to changing economic conditions - or not."
- Asbury Park Press said, "Most New Jerseyans who don’t own businesses — and even the less cold-blooded of those who do — can appreciate the basic human value of raising the minimum wage...But that doesn’t mean business concerns should be ignored. And the fact is that locking in annual increases is too restrictive moving forward and could tie employers’ hands to the point that jobs will have to be sacrificed. It is for that reason that we oppose Public Question No. 2. Tying annual minimum-wage adjustments to the CPI is bad for business and, ultimately, bad for employees."
- See also: Polls, 2013 ballot measures
|New Jersey Public Question 2 (2013)|
|Poll||Support||Opposition||Undecided||Margin of Error||Sample Size|
April 3-7, 2013
September 3-9, 2013
|Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press|
September 6-10, 2013
|Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to email@example.com|
Chamber of Commerce poll
The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, which was an opponent of Public Question 2, issued a survey in which seven out of 10 business leaders were opposed to the minimum wage increase. Specifically, 53% said that the measure, if approved, would be harmful to their business. Additionally, 84.3% said they didn't believe that the state Constitution should be amended for policy such as minimum wage.
Path to the ballot
- See also: Amending the New Jersey Constitution
In New Jersey, the state legislature must approve a proposed amendment by a supermajority vote of 60% but the same amendment can also qualify for the ballot if successive sessions of the New Jersey State Legislature approve it by a simple majority.
Public Question 2 was referred to the ballot after it was approved by both houses in successive session by simple majority. SCR 1 was approved by the Senate first on November 29, 2012 by a 23 to 16 vote and again on February 7, 2013 by a 22 to 15 vote. In the State Assembly, the bill was first approved on December 17, 2012 by a 46 to 29 vote and seconded on February 14, 2013 by a 46 to 31 vote.
November 29, 2012 Senate vote
|New Jersey Public Question 2, SCR 1 Senate Vote|
February 7, 2013 Senate vote
|New Jersey Public Question 2, SCR 1 Assembly Vote|
December 17, 2012 Assembly vote
|New Jersey Public Question 2, SCR 1 Assembly Vote|
February 14, 2013 Assembly vote
|New Jersey Public Question 2, SCR 1 Assembly Vote|
- SCR 1 (text)
- New Jersey Official Public Question 2: English, Spanish, Korean
- New Jersey Certification of Public Questions
- League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund - Public Question #2
- Raise the Wage Campaign - New Jersey
- Raise the Wage Youtube account
- Raise the Wage Facebook account
- Raise the Wage Twitter Account
- Courier Post,"N.J. voters asked to raise minimum wage to $8.25," November 2, 2013
- New Jersey Watchdog,"New Jersey’s minimum-wage question poses maximum complexity," October 28, 2013
- NJ105.com,"New Jersey’s Ballot Questions," October 28, 2013
- The Record,"Pros and cons of hiking N.J.'s minimum wage laid out in Closter debate," October 9, 2013
- NJ.com,"Your comments: N.J. business leaders, politicians debate raising minimum wage," October 4, 2013
- The Star-Ledger,"On Seaside boardwalk, business owners, leaders rally against minimum wage ballot question," October 3, 2013
- The Paramus Post,"Minimum Wage: League of Women Voters to Hold Forum on New Jersey’s November Ballot Question," September 20, 2013
- Associated Press,"Survey: Majority of NJ Business Opposed to Minimum Wage," September 9, 2013
- The Star-Ledger,"Poll: Small-business owners staunchly oppose minimum wage hike," March 18, 2013
- NJBIZ.com,"N.J. voters show bipartisan support for minimum wage hike," January 24, 2013
- Associated Press,"Christie sent measure raising NJ's minimum wage," December 4, 2012
- CBS,"New Jersey Senate Committee Votes For Minimum Wage Increase," November 19, 2012
- Philly.com, "Christie conditionally vetoes minimum-wage hike," January 29, 2013
- The Star-Ledger,"Poll: Do you favor the N.J. proposal to raise the minimum wage?," September 25, 2013
- North Jersey.com,"New Jersey minimum wage ballot fight heats up," September 29, 2013
- Raise the Minimum Wage,"Campaigns," accessed October 1, 2013
- Wall Street Journal,"Workers’ Wages on Ballot in N.J.," November 3, 2013
- SCR 1, 215th NJ Leg. (2012)
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
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- Philly.com,"Vote 'no' on minimum-wage hike," September 30, 2013
- The PEW Charitable Trusts,"Many States Look to Raise Minimum Wage," September 17, 2013
- PhillBurbs.com,"Minimum wage: Cure or curse?," September 29, 2013
- Lexology,"New York raises minimum wage rate; New Jersey may not be far behind," April 3, 2013
- The Star-Ledger,"N.J. not among locations for planned nationwide wage strikes by fast-food workers," August 28, 2013
- RaiseTheWageNJ.org, "Homepage," accessed on July 22, 2013
- New Jersey State Legislature,"Bills 2012-2013, SCR1 Scs (SCS)," accessed September 23, 2013
- WorkingFamiliesUnitedforNJ.org, "Campaigns," accessed July 22, 2013
- NJEA,"SCR-1," accessed October 1, 2013
- New Jersey Today,"Roselle Votes “Yes” to Increase Minimum Wage," September 20, 2013
- Atlantic Highlands Herald,"A YES vote on Ballot Question 2," September 15, 2013
- The Jersey Journal,"Jersey City mayor backs statewide referendum to raise minimum wage," September 6, 2013
- NorthJersey.com,"Bergen Freeholders OK resolution on minimum-wage ballot question in party-line vote," October 3, 2013
- The Star-Ledger,"Cory Booker, Barbara Buono push for minimum wage hike at union dinner," October 4, 2013
- NJBiz.com,"Business groups unveil latest effort to block minimum wage hike," October 3, 2013
- League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund,"Public Question #2," accessed October 1, 2013
- NJSpotlight.com,"Controversial ballot question seeks to boost New Jersey's minimum wage," October 24, 2013
- Courier Post,"PAC spending in New Jersey skyrockets in 2013," October 31, 2013
- PR News Channel,"Raise the Wage NJ: New ad hits airwaves urging ‘Yes vote’ on Question 2," October 25, 2013
- The Star-Ledger,"N.J. ballot question tying minimum wage increases to constitution sparks expensive battle," November 4, 2013
- NJBiz.com, "Chicago the place for N.J.'s latest efforts to attract businesses," April 24, 2013
- LibertyAndProsperity.org, "Minimum Wage Hike Brings neither Liberty nor Prosperity to New Jersey," July 15, 2013
- Minimum Wage,"About," accessed October 1, 2013
- Register-News,"GUEST OPINION: Vote ‘no’ on minimum wage question," September 19, 2013
- New Jersey Automotive,"NJ Businesses Oppose Minimum Wage Hike," July 2013
- New Jersey 101.5,"Governor Christie Opposed To Putting Minimum Wage Hike Bill To Voters [VIDEO/AUDIO," September 25, 2012]
- Politicker NJ,"Business groups oppose minimum wage hike," June 26, 2013
- EPI online,"Increase in N.J. Minimum Wage Would Hurt Teen Workers," August 11, 2013
- League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund,"Public Question #2," accessed October 1, 2013
- NJSpotlight,"Ready to wage war over raising New Jersey's minimum wage," July 25, 2013
- Daily Journal, "EDITORIAL: Working poor have earned increase in minimum wage," September 22, 2013
- Echoes-Sentinel,"Support the state ballot questions on Nov. 5," October 18, 2013
- Courier-Post,"EDITORIAL: Help veterans and workers by voting 'yes'," October 19, 2013
- The Star-Ledger,"Vote yes for a higher N.J. minimum wage: Editorial," October 27, 2013
- The Times of Trenton,"Editorial: Yes on Question 2 - Support N.J. minimum wage increase," November 3, 2013
- The New York Times,"Add a Dollar an Hour in New Jersey," November 3, 2013
- Press of Atlantic City,"Public Question No. 2 / A reluctant 'no'," October 15, 2013
- Asbury Park Press,"Minimum wage poses quandary," October 21, 2013
- The Current,"New Jersey voters to face question on raising minimum wage (POLL)," October 8, 2013
- Philly Burbs, "NJ Senate moves minimum wage bill closer to voters," February 8, 2013
- Philly.com, "N.J. voters to decide on raising wage," February 15, 2013