Governor Christie:  Despite having the constitutional mandate in place, the Legislature now wants to increase the minimum wage by almost 80% just three years later. Approval of Assembly Bill 15 would not only bring New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021, but under the ill-advised constitutional amendment put into place three years ago it would also continue to rise annually there forward based upon the CPI, which is why I believe we never should have put the CPI in in the first place. This bill would make New Jersey only the third state in the nation to adopt a minimum wage of $15, and it would trigger an escalation of wages that will make doing business in New Jersey unaffordable. So, today in consideration of the current constitutional mandate to increase the minimum wage annually based upon the Consumer Price Index, the high taxes and the often overwhelming regulations that New Jersey businesses have been subjected to in the past and could be subjected to again, I am vetoing Assembly Bill 15, absolutely. While the bill’s proposed increase surely is responsive to the demands of Democratic legislators’ political patrons, it fails to consider the capacity of businesses, especially small businesses like Pennington Market, to absorb the substantially increased labor costs it will impose. For instance, we met with a small businessman who owns two gas stations and a convenience store in Bergen County. He told us that the minimum wage increase would nearly double his payroll from $380,000 to $680,000. Wendy’s Restaurants have already announced that it will roll out self-service kiosks and reduce its number of employees. There is a Wawa down the road here on 31 that I go to and have gone to for all the years that I’ve been Governor. When I first became Governor, before the last minimum wage increase, there were four registers you could check out in and each one of them was manned by an employee. There are still four there now. I just stopped there to make sure on the way here. There are still four there, except only one of them is manned by an employee and the other three are self-serve. Those are three employees who used to work there, who don’t work there anymore. If you go to Panera, you see now that the minimum number of people are employed there and only those people, one person at the register and most of them, and the rest of them are people who are preparing food, and the other ones are self-serve kiosks. That’s the wave of the future, if we continue to do this type of really radical increase in the minimum wage.