It was quite a lengthy (and sometimes lofty) debate on the minimum wage increase bill (from $7.25 to $8.50) along with its companion constitutional amendment which passed the Senate last Thursday. Minority Leader Senator Tom Kean, Jr. lamented the lack of bipartisanship on these measures. He urged “compromise” in order to gain Republican support. The “compromise” put forth by the Republicans would implement this minimum wage increase over the course of several years, and would remove the automatic cost of living increment. (Snarky note: yesterday another automatic increase went into effect for Port Authority bridge and tunnel tolls. Ok for the PA to handle toll increases in that manner, but not good enough for low wage earners to keep up with automatic cost of living increases.)
Not one Republican supported these bills. Some used the excuse of Hurricane Sandy, but Senate President Steve Sweeney rightly pointed out that Republicans did not support these same bills prior to Hurricane Sandy.
This was an issue which clearly separated the two parties. Because of basic philosophical differences, there could be no “bipartisanship”. So after the Assembly concurs in the Senate bill, and passes the constitutional amendment companion, both go the the Governor’s desk. Do I hear veto?
If so, the constitutional amendment can be passed again in 2013, and the voters of New Jersey will be asked to approve the measures on the ballot in November of 2013. Should be interesting to watch this all unfold.
Today, the Senate Budget Committee goes to Moonachie to view the devastation to the town’s infrastructure and to hold a hearing on the needs of the Bergen County community. There’s a long road ahead as the State and local governments must meet the challenges caused by the hurricane. I would hope that local governments will be examining “smarter” rebuilding along with the State. I would also suggest that each locality must take the time to examine their own emergency procedures and what worked well, and what did not. I have read about a few towns doing this, but certainly not enough of them. Each emergency has a lesson to teach which should make the next one a bit easier to get through if local government is willing to take a good hard look at what occurred.
This will be a tough holiday season for many of our residents. It will be mostly a working time for our Legislature, as there are hearings and voting sessions scheduled through a good portion of December. I know “bipartisanship” will be necessary on the rebuilding road, and I believe we will acheive that.
However, politics will continue to capture our attention. After all, this is New Jersey. We have a Governor who is enjoying enormous popularity on the waves of Hurricane Sandy. But in the months ahead we will be talking about things like the Affordable Care Act and how we implement it in New Jersey; about tax policy and who gets a tax break or a tax increase; job growth and the economy. We are awaiting the Cory Booker decision. Will he or won’t he?
Much to talk about and blog about.