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Controversial Ballot Question Seeks to Boost New Jersey's Minimum Wage

Bloomberg News also made that assessment in April 2012: "(A) wave of new economic research is disproving those arguments about job losses and youth employment . . . The studies find minimum-wage increases even provide an economic boost, albeit a small one, as strapped workers immediately spend their raises.”

Nationwide, Americans’ support for minimum-wage hikes is stunning.

This past summer, Hart Research Associates found that 80 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. President Obama is advocating for a federal minimum wage hike to $9 an hour; Congressional Republicans oppose his efforts.

Nineteen states have already raised their minimum wage above the federal standard, and while New Jersey is the only state with a question on the ballot this year, three other states are working to place similar initiatives on theirs next year. A few weeks ago, California Gov. Jerry Brown made news when he signed a bill to raise California’s minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2016. The increase gives California the nation’s most generous statewide minimum wage, though four other states are also considering raising their minimums to $10 or higher.

According to CNBC, only four states, including Alaska and Hawaii, have a cost of living higher than New Jersey.

Giving Veterans the Right to Fundraise with Games of Chance

Under current New Jersey law, only senior citizens groups can keep money they raise through hosting games of chance like bingo, lotto, and raffles. The constitution requires groups to use proceeds from this form of gambling only for “educational, charitable, patriotic, religious or public-spirited purposes.”

But in response to pleas from veterans organizations that warn they’ll have to close down if they can’t generate new streams of income to cover increases in the price of electricity, gas, oil, and other utilities amid dwindling donations and membership fees, the Legislature has launched an initiative to extend these courtesies to licensed veterans associations.

Robert McNulty, of the New Jersey Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, has been quoted as saying that because of the restrictions on gambling proceeds, "We can't pay for insurance. We can't do building repairs or maintenance or upgrades. We can't do utilities.”

In a bipartisan show of support, both houses voted unanimously to place the question on the ballot, and Christie signed the bill in August.

There seems to be no public dissent, other than a cautionary comment by the League of Women Voters, which published position papers that examined both sides of New Jersey’s ballot questions, that notes, “There are many worthwhile organizations other than veterans and senior citizen groups. This amendment provides veterans groups with an option not available to some other groups.” It continued, “There are serious downsides to gambling, including addiction. Veterans' organizations could find less socially risky sources to procure additional funds.”

The Ballot News website says that with three states putting veterans’ issues on the ballot this year, the topic ranks as the nation’s second-most popular, after taxes. According to Ballotpedia.com, New Jersey voters last encountered ballot questions pertaining to veterans in 1999, though questions over gambling have appeared on the ballot three times since 1998.

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