I write to you today in order to beg you to re-evaluate the methodology used to calculate our state’s minimum wage. I am firmly convinced that by law, the wrong methodology has been implemented into our constitution.
In 2013, the voters of New Jersey approved the minimum wage referendum which included language to adjust the minimum wage to increases in “the cost of living”. However, following the implementation of the constitutional amendment, the minimum wage has been adjusted to the consumer price index rather than the cost of living. This is incredibly problematic and deserves your immediate attention for the following reasons.
The consumer price index is not, in any way, the same thing as the cost of living. The United States Department of Labor even elicits a difference between the two on the department’s website. The consumer price index is a national tool that takes account of some factors that have nothing to do with the cost of living in New Jersey. For example, the economies of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and New York are influences on the consumer price index. Why are the economies of other states now playing a deciding role in our state’s minimum wage? Theoretically, in the future, food prices in New York could drive down New Jersey’s minimum wage, and therefore harm our residents. This does not make any logical or economical sense.
There are two academic entities that have created methodological formulas in order to calculate an hourly wage based upon the cost of living in New Jersey. One method comes from MIT, the other from Legal Services of New Jersey. I recommend you read my article from the New Jersey Law Journal in order to understand how they portray the true cost of living in our state. These projections average $3.00/hour more than the consumer price index calculation of $8.38. Under the consumer price index calculation, residents will still fall more than $6,000 below the poverty line. How is that a cost of living?
Since New Jersey residents approved the referendum, they should get what they democratically voted for. The language that appeared on the ballot in 2013 did not in any term mention the consumer price index. Both in the question, and the interpretive statement, the words, “cost of living” were used, leaving no constitutional reason to use the consumer price index. Bluntly, the voters did not approve of minimum wage adjustments coherent to the consumer price index.
As a Senator, you have the power and the authority to act upon this error, and I highly recommend that you do. Be not afraid of Governor Christie and his predictable rejection of this error. I am telling you that this issue is not one of discrepancy. This is cut and dry, and if it were to be reviewed by the Supreme Court, within a week you would be asking the legislature to develop a cost of living methodology.
Thank you for your time,
Brian K. Everett