March 20, 2019 | 29° F

Vote yes on question 2 on nov. 5

Letter to the editor

It concerns me that with the media’s attention focused first on the almost preordained election of Senator Cory Booker and then on the clash between Gov. Chris Christie and his Democratic rival Barbara Buono, Rutgers students and New Jersey voters are more broadly unaware of another question we get to decide at the polls this fall. In addition to potentially electing a new governor or reelecting our current one, on Nov. 5, we have the opportunity to vote to increase the minimum wage in our state by a dollar per hour and tie future increases to the natural rise in the cost of living in the state. In effect, New Jersey residents are given the rare opportunity to vote ourselves a raise. Perhaps the more cynical Daily Targum reader will cede that our politicians do that with far more regularity.  

Voting yes, and why students particularly should care about raising the wage, feels self-evident. Wages in New Jersey have been stagnant for decades while the cost living has risen steadily, and tuition particularly has more than doubled since the 1990s. Working students — including many of our friends and peers and I suspect many of the people who will read this article — are being forced to do much more with much less than what is reasonable in the state with one of the highest populations of millionaires in the country during an era of unprecedented corporate profit. And yet, these arguments need to be made, because there is so much misinformation circulating this year, spread with the aid of over $500,000 dollars spent by a right wing, pro-corporate coalition seeking to defeat the measure. So I will state it plainly — the current minimum wage is well below the poverty line in our state. Raising the wage would inject more than $276.1 million into an ailing state economy, while improving the economic futures of many struggling N.J. families. Finally, raising the minimum wage for the bottom rung of our economic ladder improves the earning power of those of us higher up that ladder, helping those with college degrees escape from the specter of becoming a “lost generation.”

So we find ourselves with two options in regards to question two. We can vote yes, supporting our friends that have to skip meals to pay for textbooks and our neighbors that have to work two jobs and accept government aid in order to feed their children. Or we can vote no, abandoning New Jersey residents at the bottom of the economic ladder with our fear perpetrated by shadowy corporate-funded entities with a clear agenda of their own. The choice is that simple. All we are counting on is for you to show up to the polls to make it.

John Connelly is a 5th-year senior in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in History, Political Science and American Studies. He is a fellow of the Andrew Goodman Foundation and the former president of the Rutgers University Student Assembly.

By John Connelly

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