July 23, 2019 | 67° F

NJ voters pass minimum wage, veteran ballot amendments

New Jersey residents voted last Nov. 5 for more than just the governor at the polls. They also passed two major referendums increasing the minimum wage and supporting veterans’ organizations with games of chance.

The constitutional amendment changing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour passed with 61 percent of voters in favor of the action, according to the Associated Press. The amendment also adjusts the minimum wage over time as the cost of living increases.

The state legislature originally supported the amendment, but Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the move, according to an article in The Star-Ledger.

According to the National Conferences of State Legislatures, 19 states and Washington, D. C., have a minimum wage higher than the federal requirement.

In a Daily Targum article, David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, said New Jersey has a cost of living 30 percent higher than the national average.

The amendment, set to come into effect in January, will affect 41,000 minimum wage workers, according to United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The referendum also affects many college students. Although employees under 25 compose only one-fifth of the workforce, they make up half of minimum wage workers, according to a 2011 report for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Voters also supported the veterans’ ballot amendment, which allows veterans’ organizations to raise funds for everyday expenses.

State Sen. Christopher Bateman, R-16, said in an article for the Targum that veterans’ organizations could only use current funds for games of chance for charitable causes.

Bateman co-sponsored the new amendment, which allows them to use those funds for building upkeep and maintenance.

Stephen Abel, director of Veteran and Military Programs and Services at Rutgers, said in a Targum article that his local chapter of American Legion would benefit from the funding.

He said the original law banning gambling for non-charitable purposes should not apply to veterans’ organizations, which do not allow any individuals to gamble, only members of the organizations.

“Someone couldn’t just walk off the street and play these games of chance inside the organization,” he said.

By Erin Petenko

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