By Matthew Arco | January 28th, 2013 - 1:50pm
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TRENTON – The Legislature’s top lawmakers promptly shot back at Gov. Chris Christie Monday after the governor rejected lawmakers’ proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage.

The top lawmakers, who have threatened to allow voters to decide the issue if Christie rejected the proposal, issued statements calling the governor’s actions “unacceptable.”

“Everyone deserves a wage that helps support their family and improves their quality of life. For too long, working people in this state have been struggling with stagnant wages. We gave the governor a chance to do the right thing for working people in New Jersey,” Senate President Steve Sweeney said in a statement.

Sweeney’s comments were echoed by Speaker Sheila Oliver.

Gov. Christie has again failed hard-working New Jerseyans,” Oliver said.

“Gov. Christie should have sided with Democrats and ensured an immediate livable wage for all residents, but he has failed miserably. This conditional veto is unacceptable,” she said. “Any proposal that lacks annual adjustments to ensure wages keep pace with the economy is not a real solution.”

Despite grumblings from Democratic state lawmakers, the governor’s action was lauded by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, which called Christie’s conditional veto “a reasonable compromise.”

“The governor has found a reasonable compromise to a difficult and contentious issue,” Assistant Vice President Stefanie Riehl said in a statement. “The conditional veto recognizes that many small businesses are struggling in this economy and facing the daunting task of rebuilding after Sandy and are not in a position to absorb a 17-percent wage increase all at once.

Republican lawmakers also praised the governor's actions.

"The governor has rightly rejected a partisan bill to set New Jersey’s minimum wage on auto-pilot regardless of the economic circumstances or needs of job creators," Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. said in a statement.

"The recommendations for changes made in his veto statement are the reasonable and responsible way to increase the minimum wage without telling New Jersey’s business community to, in effect, drop dead," he said.

Moments before the statements were released Christie’s office announced the governor’s decision to reject the Legislature’s proposal and send a reworked bill back to both chambers that would institute a $1 phase-in over three years and an increase to the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. 

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