Volume 6/Issue 5

  • Legislative Leaders Announce Competing $15 Minimum Wage Bills
  • National PTA Calls for All Students to Participate in High Quality Assessments
  • New Legislator Profile: Eric Houghtaling

Legislative Leaders Announce Competing $15 Minimum Wage Bills

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Senate President Steve Sweeney recently announced competing bills to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage from the current $8.38 to $15.  

The Assembly legislation, a key component of the Assembly’s focus on fighting poverty in the State, would mandate one direct increase in the wage to $15, but requires Governor Christie’s signature.

The Governor’s Office has already publicly stated that he will veto the legislation should it reach his desk, according to the Bergen Record. "Between nearly doubling the minimum wage and their effort to enshrine a $3 billion tax increase in the constitution, there is absolutely no end to what Democrats in the legislature will do to kill jobs, drive major businesses out of New Jersey and destroy an economy that is on the rebound," said Christie spokesman Brian Murray.

In contrast to the Speaker’s plan, the Senate President’s legislation would raise New Jersey's minimum wage to $9.00 per hour and increase it incrementally over time. It would also go directly to the voters in the form of a ballot question, bypassing the need for the Governor’s approval.  The initial increase to $9 per hour would become effective January 1 of the year following voter approval, and the minimum wage would increase by a $1.00 every year thereafter until it reaches $15.00 per hour.  

The Senate President announced his proposal alongside U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross, who will introduce similar legislation on the federal level.  Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald will sponsor the version of the Sweeney bill in his house. 

National PTA Calls for All Students to Participate in High Quality Assessments

Noting that that high-quality assessments provide valuable information to parents, teachers and school leaders about the growth and achievement of their students and help guide educational decisions, the National PTA recently adopted a position statement calling for all students to participate in such comprehensive tests while clearly stating that the organization does not support State and district policies that allow students to “opt out” of them.

The PTA statement acknowledges that state assessment systems should be appropriately aligned with each state’s academic standards including multiple measures of student growth and achievement so that students have the knowledge and skills needed for college or the workplace.

Their position against sanctioned opt-out policies is based on several factors, including the potential loss of funding and diminished resources for students and that such practices could thwart transparency by providing incomplete data for states, districts and schools.  They also point out that “opting out” inhibits the effective monitoring and improvement of programs, exams and instructional strategies.

New Legislator Profile: Eric Houghtaling

Assemblyman Houghtaling is a new legislator from the 11th Legislative District.  The district is geographically diverse, including the shore communities of Asbury Park and Long Branch and towns such Red Bank, Freehold Township and Neptune City.

The new assemblyman and his running-mate, Assemblywoman Joanne Downey, defeated two incumbent GOP legislators in one of the most targeted election contests last November.

He is a career electrician and a 38-year member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 400, serving as an elected officer within the union for 14 years.  He is also the IBEW’s representative to the Monmouth and Ocean Counties Central Labor Council.

Assemblyman Houghtaling is a lifelong resident of Neptune township, where he previously served a committeeman and as the mayor.  

The Assemblyman was appointed to the Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, the Labor Committee and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.