Governor Phil Murphy and his team apparently failed to account for the impact on the minimum wage increase he signed into law earlier this year will have on his own State Budget. Senator Declan O’Scanlon called this omission a “shocking failure.”
“Just a month ago the Governor patted himself on the back as he signed the minimum wage increase bill. During today’s Senate Budget hearing, we learned that incredibly, while he was preparing this budget, the Governor failed to provide the very funding necessary to meet the increased spending obligations triggered by his new minimum wage policy,” O’Scanlon said.
“At today’s hearing, we heard from those who take care of our most vulnerable residents. Over and over again, these hardworking and compassionate folks told us that they will be crushed if we don’t provide the funding increases they need to comply with this policy.
“I don’t care if you opposed or supported the minimum wage increase. We all should be outraged that the state itself isn’t living up to the policy it championed, and inflicted upon itself.
“There can be no claim of ignorance here. I have been warning people about these implications for years, dating back to when we first began discussing the possibility of a massive wage hike.
“The minimum wage increase was also a key plank in Murphy’s campaign for Governor. It’s a policy that was debated throughout the entire first year of his administration. The fact that apparently, no one in his administration had the foresight to anticipate that there would be actual cost increases – and provide for those increases in this budget – is astounding.”
Senator O’Scanlon pointed to testimony that was delivered at today’s budget hearing by the Christian Health Care Center – one of a number of New Jersey groups who have expressed concerns regarding the devastating impact a lack of adequate funding would have on their ability to care for New Jersey’s most vulnerable:
“The need for additional Medicaid funding is no surprise to the Legislature or the Governor’s office. When the bill to increase the minimum wage was introduced earlier this year, the Legislature and the Governor’s Office were repeatedly made fully aware and reminded of the significant shortfall that already exists in NJ’s Medicaid program for nursing home and assisted living services,” a representative from the Christian Health Care Center said in a statement prepared for the committee.
“In addition, it was made clear to the Legislature and the Governor’s Office that the proposed increase in the minimum wage would make this existing and already significant Medicaid funding shortfall substantially worse and create a crisis if not addressed properly in the FY 2020 budget,” the statement continued.
“A critical, apparently also overlooked, aspect of the impact of this policy on entities that provide nursing services and direct support professionals is that they have to pay at least 25 percent more than minimum wage to stand any chance of luring people into this challenging, essential profession. Keeping up with these salary increases will crush them if we fail to meet our self-created obligations.” O’Scanlon concluded.