By Matthew Arco | December 3rd, 2012 - 4:07pm
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TRENTON – After months of debate New Jersey lawmakers have voted to send a proposal to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk that would raise the state’s minimum wage.

Assembly lawmakers voted 44-31-1 Monday along party lines to release a proposal that would increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 and link future increases to annual cost of living increases. The bill cleared the Senate floor last week and is now on its way to the governor, who has cast much doubt over putting his signature on anything that calls for automatic increases.

Assembly lawmakers on both sides of the aisle made many of the same arguments they did months ago when the Assembly first voted on the proposal in May.

“It is not a time to place another burden on small businesses in New Jersey,” said Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, (R-21), echoing similar comments made by his colleagues in the Senate who argued that post Superstorm Sandy is not the right time for a minimum wage hike.

And like the prior vote, Democrats defended the bill.

“I think that this chamber … has been extremely supportive to the business community in the state,” said Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, (D-34).

“I feel that just as I pushed that green button (and voted in favor of helping) those private-sector interests, I am compelled to speak for another element of this state as well,” she said.

About a half dozen lawmakers spoke on the bill before voting to release it from the chambers.

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“Israelis don’t want peace more than the Palestinians, Palestinians don’t want peace more than the Israelis, but I do know one thing: Hamas is a terrorist organization.” - U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9), Paterson.

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