New Jersey Democrats want $15 an hour minimum wage

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New Jersey workers would see the state's minimum wage raised to $15 an hour under a proposal unveiled Thursday.

New Jersey workers would see the state's minimum wage raised to $15 an hour under a proposal unveiled Thursday by Democratic legislative leaders flanked by labor and anti-poverty activists.

Assembly Leader Vincent Prieto announced the details of a bill that comes amid a broader push to address poverty in New Jersey.

"We need to move forward to show people we care about them," Prieto said.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who is running for president, has been critical of raising the wage in the past. His office said the proposal could hurt the state's economy.

"There is absolutely no end to what Democrats in the legislature will do to kill jobs, drive major businesses out of New Jersey and destroy an economy that is on the rebound," spokesman Brian Murray said.

No state has enacted a $15 an hour minimum wage, though neighboring New York is considering it. Some cities, including Seattle, have raised it to that level.

The minimum wage in New Jersey is currently $8.38 an hour, or just over $17,400 a year for a full-time employee.

Voters approved a referendum in 2013 to raise the state's wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 and to tie it to inflation. Prieto says if the $15 an hour wage bill takes effect it would also be tied to inflation because of the 2013 constitutional amendment.

He added that the 2013 change set a floor for the wage and that lawmakers can increase it without another ballot question.

Fourteen other states, plus the District of Columbia, have tied the wage to inflation as New Jersey did in 2013.

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