Democrats agree on $15 minimum wage plan

New Jersey’s minimum wage would increase to $15 an hour over five years under a new proposal from the leaders of the Democratic Legislature.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Senate President Steve Sweeney announced their plan Friday during a statehouse news conference.

The announcement came after the party leaders described competing plans to raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.38 an hour. The wage was last raised in 2013, from $7.25.

The new plan calls for raising the hourly wage to $10.10 in the first year if approved, before going to $15 after five years, an approach favored by Sweeney. It also will begin as a bill, rather than a proposal to amend the state constitution, as Prieto originally desired.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie condemned the Democratic initiative to compel a pay hike for the state’s poorest workers, calling it “economically irresponsible.”

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