The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

New Jersey just became the fifth state to add a minimum wage in its constitution

A man in neighboring New York protests for a minimum wage hike there. (Mike Segar/Reuters.)
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Well, it’s official, the state that easily reelected the man who could well become the next Republican presidential nominee has also enshrined minimum wage increases in its constitution.

The Associated Press called it early for the measure—as of when this was written, it had 60.3 percent of the vote with just under two thirds of precincts reporting. But it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. One late-September poll showed support at 76 percent with opposition at just 22 percent. Another showed a margin just as large.

The now-approved constitutional amendment raises the state minimum wage from the federally mandated $7.25 to $8.25 and sets it to increase automatically with inflation. It is the fifth state to add a minimum wage to its constitution and the 11th to implement automatic hikes, according to data maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

While voters overwhelmingly reelected Gov. Chris Christie (R), the vote on the constitutional amendment is a repudiation of one of his policy stances. Earlier this year, Christie vetoed a bill to raise the minimum wage to $8.50, with automatic adjustments tied to inflation increases. That bill, he said, was bad for the economy. Instead, he offered to raise in the minimum wage to $8.25 over three years and increase the earned income tax credit. The Democrat-led state legislature turned him down and instead voted to place the measure on the ballot.

The other four states with constitutional provisions on the minimum wage—all of which include automatic increases—are Florida, Colorado, Nevada and Ohio, according to the NCSL. In Florida and Nevada, it was added in 2004, while Ohio and Colorado added it in 2006. Arizona, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have non-constitutional provisions to automatically increase the minimum wage.