Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) says she would have signed the Assembly’s minimum wage bill had she been governor.
In an interview with State Street, Buono said she disagrees with Gov. Chris Christie’s Monday decision to conditionally veto
a bill that would have raised the state’s minimum wage to $8.50. She said minimum wage workers in the Garden State face a tough reality.
“All I will say is that New Jersey is such a high-cost state to live in that it’s very difficult to either rent an apartment or certainly pay a mortgage based on that kind of income,” she said. “It’s nearly impossible in New Jersey.”
Buono made the comments aboard the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s Walk to Washington train Thursday.
In conditionally vetoing the minimum wage bill, Christie asked the Legislature to instead agree to a $1 minimum wage hike, to be phased in over three years. The Assembly’s $1.25 increase would have taken effect all at once, in March, with automatic increases in future years based on the Consumer Price Index. Christie’s proposal also included an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Buono used the train trip to meet some of the 900 business people, politicians and reporters in attendance at the chamber’s event. The Walk to Washington, which concludes today, falls on the eve of her official campaign kickoff, which is set to take place Saturday. It also comes at the end of the week that saw Buono virtually seal up the Democratic nomination to challenge Christie in November, as her final remaining would-be opponents opted against running for the state’s top office.
Buono challenged Christie’s record on the economy, saying Christie’s “Jersey Comeback” amounts to “empty rhetoric.” She also promoted her own business bona fides, specifically noting a bill she sponsored that was signed by Christie in 2011, which created an alternative business deduction calculation. The law means small business owners can offset net income from one type of business with net losses from another. Buono said New Jersey was one of only two states that didn’t allow such offsets.
“This was the first taxable year - 2012 - that it will be in effect for businesses, and it will amount to a significant tax cut,” she said.
Buono wasn’t the only gubernatorial candidate at the Washington D.C. event, though she was the only one to take the train trip. Christie was Thursday’s keynote speaker, however the governor did not ride the train, and left shortly after his speech.