TRENTON, NJ – Gov. Chris Christie today vetoed Assembly Bill No. 15, which would have raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour by the year 2021.

Anticipating Christie's veto, Democratic lawmakers led by Senate President Stephen Sweeney have said they will press for a publici referendum on the 2017 ballot, asking voters to approve the controveresial wage hike.

Three years ago, New Jersey residents voted to raise the minimum wage to $8.25, along with annual adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This bill would have made New Jersey only the third state to adopt a $15 minimum wage.

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“Despite having a constitutional mandate in place, the legislature now wants to increase the minimum wage by almost 80 percent just three years later,”  Christie said.  “While this bill’s proposed increase surely is responsive to demands from Democrat legislators’ political patrons, it fails to consider the capacity of businesses, especially small businesses, to absorb the substantially increased labor costs it will impose, killing jobs and erasing gains of more than 275,000 private sector jobs since 2010.

" I cannot support a bill that undermines the positive results we have achieved in New Jersey and I am returning A-15 to the legislature with an Absolute Veto,” he added.

Business owners would face added expenses from this substantial wage hike through increased payrolls, taxes and supply costs, Opponents of the minimum wage increase have said it would have forced businesses to lay off workers; reduce employee hours; raise prices;relocate from New Jersey; or close altogether.

Other states and cities ramping up to a $15 minimum wage – California, Seattle and Washington, D.C., for example – are already seeing those negative economic impacts, from fewer jobs to increased costs for goods and services on college campuses, in restaurants and in the manufacturing sector, according to the governor's office..

"Similar outcomes in New Jersey would be a significant step backward on the road to economic recovery and an affront to all of the accomplishments of our private-sector businesses over the past six-and-a-half years," Christie said.