By David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — A plan to increase New Jersey’s minimum wage by about 17 percent is making its way through the state legislature, but there could be some changes before all is said and done.

The proposal to take the salary floor from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour cleared one state senate committee but still has to be heard in another.

Meanwhile, the state assembly is ready to take a full vote on the plan as soon as next week.

Deborah Howlett, with New Jersey Policy Perspective, supports the change.

howlett deborah NJ Senate Committee Clears Plan To Hike Minimum Wage Across Garden State

(Deborah Howlett, president of NJPP. Photo provided)

“Seven dollars and 25 cents an hour translates into $15,080 a year,” she points out, “and that’s just not enough for anyone to really do well on in New Jersey.”

Opponents, mostly in the business sector, note that the proposed increase would make the Garden State’s minimum wage the third highest in the nation. They particularly don’t like one provision that allows for automatic increases in the future tied to the Consumer Price Index.

“When sales don’t rise fast enough to accommodate forced wage hikes, employers are in a position where they have to make tough personnel and operating decisions like, perhaps, reducing worker hours or cutting other costs,” says Stefanie Riehl, assistant vice president with the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

Sources indicate the Christie administration wants to work with Democrats on this issue, and might support an increase in some form.

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