New Jersey Democrats want $15 an hour minimum wage

Democratic leaders want to raise New Jersey's minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The minimum wage in New Jersey is currently $8.38 an hour.

The minimum wage in New Jersey is currently $8.38 an hour. (2/4/16)

TRENTON - New Jersey's Democratic leaders want to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Assembly Leader Vincent Prieto Thursday was joined in Trenton by Assemblyman John Wisniewski and state Sen. Ray Lesniak, who also sponsored the legislation. Dozens of labor and anti-poverty activists also attended the State House news conference.

The minimum wage in New Jersey is currently $8.38 an hour, or just over $17,400 a year for a full-time employee. If the increase happens, full-time employees could make slightly more than $31,000 per year.

However, not all business owners are in favor of such a large increase to the minimum wage.

Amy Boroff owns Be Craftful in downtown Fanwood. The business hosts children’s birthday parties and employs eight part-time workers.  Bofoff tells News 12 New Jersey that she understands the need to pay a better living wage to adults supporting families. But she says that she can't pay her less-experienced teen employees any more than they already make.

“That’s doubling my actual payroll expenses, which in turn unfortunately would have to be reflected in my cost for birthday parties.”

Boroff says that she hopes lawmakers reconsider their plan.

Voters approved a referendum in 2013 to raise the wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 and to tie it to inflation.

Assemblyman Prieto says that change set a floor for the wage and that lawmakers can increase it without another ballot question.

Prieto's legislation comes as he pushes for broader policies to address poverty in New Jersey.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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