Christie vetoes minimum wage hike attempt

PENNINGTON BOROUGH, N.J. (AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday shot down an attempt to raise the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in the next year and to at least $15 over the next five.

Christie announced his veto at an event at a market in Pennington, saying it would burden small businesses and describing the proposal as the "heavy hand of government."

Standing in the organic fruit and vegetable section of the market, Christie said raising wages is the job of business owners.

"All of this sounds great, raising the minimum wage, when you're spending someone else's money," he said.

Democrats, who control the statehouse, and liberal groups have put the legislation at the center of their agenda. The Legislature sent Christie the measure in June.

Democratic leaders have said they'll pursue a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage without the need for Christie's approval.

Voters last approved raising the wage in 2013, from $7.25 to $8.25.

New Jersey would have become the third state on a direct path toward a $15 an hour minimum wage, the highest in the nation. New York and California passed similar measures. Other states — New Jersey included — have already linked their increased wages to inflation.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney said he expects a constitutional amendment to increase the minimum wage could be on the ballot in 2017, when New Jersey voters choose Christie's successor.

Christie predicted a public relations fight over a constitutional amendment to raise the wage and encouraged the public to engage.

"It's going to be a big fight," he said. "Today's just another round."

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