PENNINGTON - Gov. Chris Christie has 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.
The Republican governor announced his veto at an event at a market in Pennington Tuesday. He says that it would burden small businesses and described the proposal as the "heavy hand of government."
“Every time you want me to spend more money, it’s not my money I’m spending, it’s yours,” Christie said.
The governor said that there would be extreme job losses if he passed the legislation. He mentioned the increase use of self-service kiosks as well.
“That’s the wave of the future if we continue to do this type of really radical increase in the minimum wage,” Christie said.
Pennington Market owner Mike Rothwell says that he keeps long-term employees and gives them regular raises, but would not be able to afford an increase in the minimum wage.
“This would be a pretty substantial increase that’s being proposed so the next stage would be to actually lay people off,” Rothwell said.
Democrats, who control the statehouse, and liberal groups have put the legislation at 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.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.