Assembly Republican Press Release -
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Republican budget officer, testified in Trenton before the Senate Labor Committee on a bill (S15) sponsored by Sens. Sweeney and Vitale that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, and eventually to $15.
“The debate to date has focused on the potential impact of this policy on the destruction it may inflict on the entry level job market. Even non-partisan supporters of the previous minimum wage hike have serious reservations that we may be going too far, too fast. Many employers have told us that the increase will kill entry level job creation. That debate will rage on. But ignored so far in all maelstrom is any talk of the staggering impact this move will have in the already over-stressed New Jersey state budget. At a budget hearing last month, we heard testimony from ARC and the community of mental healthcare providers. These are people sympathetic to an increase in wages for healthcare workers who are making $10 an hour and haven’t had a raise in years. But together, they estimated a fully phased in minimum wage of $15 would have a shocking $250 million effect on their budgets. If the State isn’t picking up that tab then they have no idea how to plug the hole.
“Between fully phasing in our public employee pension payments, transportation funding, and a host of other things, within five or six years, we’re looking at a $7 to $8 billion budget problem. The pension and health benefits and some debt increases alone will absorb all of the state’s natural revenue growth. Without simultaneously advocating for serious reforms and dealing with our over-all budget situation no one has any business advocating for huge increases in spending – which translates to huge increases in taxes.
“I have asked the supporters of this bill: ‘What’s the impact going to be on our state budget?’ Stunningly, no one has been able to give me that answer. I don’t care how noble or justified the cause may be – taxpayers need us to be the adults in the room. We need to be straight with taxpayers, and with each other. There is no money hidden in a vault in the statehouse. Every dollar of extra cost is a dollar less for another worthy cause – or a dollar out of taxpayers’ pockets. If we go through with this, and the other huge commitments Democrats are advocating – without serious reforms – we are heading for a fiscal cliff of epic proportions. The only recourse will be enormous, unprecedented tax increases that will be devastating to all taxpayers – but will likely hit hardest at the very people this bill intends to help.”