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Lawmakers eye tax credit for businesses to hire disabled workers as part of minimum wage deal

NJBIZ - 1/28/2019

Part of the deal on a bill to increase the state minimum wage to $15 an hour, slated for a Thursday vote in the Assembly Labor Committee, will include tax credits for businesses that hire disabled employees.
Lawmakers are also set to vote on Assembly Bill 2903 Jan. 24, which would expand the means by which employees can reclaim stiffed wages and heighten penalties for businesses found guilty of wage theft or retaliation against workers who report the thefts.
Meanwhile, this week’s vote on Assembly Bill 15, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, comes a week after a deal struck between Coughlin, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, and Gov. Phil Murphy to gradually increase the minimum wage for $15 an hour for most workers by 2024.
On Jan. 18, Sweeney announced on Twitter that the minimum wage deal will include tax credits for businesses that hire disabled employees.
“This will help to further integrate people with disabilities into the workplace, giving them the opportunity for meaningful employment and providing employers with highly motivated workers,” Sweeney said.
The deal marks a major victory for Murphy, who campaigned on a $15 hourly minimum wage. On Jan. 15, Murphy, at his first ever State of the State address, called on lawmakers to work with him in the new year on a deal for the wage-increase.
For the majority of employees in the state, the current base rate of $8.85 would increase to $10 an hour by July 1 and then to $11 an hour by Jan. 1, 2020. It would increase $1 an hour every Jan. 1 until it reaches $15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2024.
“Honestly, this could have been done months ago, but I am thrilled we came to an agreement,” Sweeney said Jan. 18 at the NJBankers Association Economic Leadership Forum in Somerset.
Seasonal workers and employees of businesses with less than five workers will see their wage raise to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2026. Farmworkers’ wages will increase to $12.50 an hour no later than 2024.
“When you do have a minimum wage bill, as large as we’re going to go, you’ve got to make sure that you don’t do it in a way that you’re going to lose too many jobs,” Sweeney said at the NJBankers’ event. “So I think it’s done in a very responsible fashion.”
Under the agreement, the phase-in rate for tipped workers will not change from what lawmakers originally drafted in A15 - from the current rate of $2.13 an hour to $5.13 an hour.
State law requires that if a tipped worker, generally a restaurant waiter, makes less than the minimum wage, then the employer has to make up the difference.

CREDIT: Jessica Perry

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