By David Madden
BLACKWOOD, N.J., (CBS) -- A South Jersey Congressman plans to introduce a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour.
Donald Norcross made the announcement during a press conference at Camden County College in Blackwood.
Norcross got New Jersey's minimum wage raised, and tied to inflation, as a member of the State Senate. Now he wants congress to incrementally increase the federal minimum wage, tie it to inflation and offer tax breaks to small businesses that pay over the minimum at any level.
"CEOs at major corporations earn 74,000 percent than the American minimum wage. That's not a level playing field," Norcross said.
Supporters of the plan who attended the announcement included the Camden County Freeholders, the Gloucester County NAACP and the Catholic Diocese of Camden.
They were joined by people who shared their stories of trying to cope on living with a minimum wage of $8.38 in New Jersey, higher than the current federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.
Among them was Gynene Jonas, a single mom from Sicklerville, a certified nursing assistant who actually earns 11 dollars an hour. "I often find myself scraping by, running out of money before I get that next check," she said. "We're not asking for a lot. We're just asking for enough to actually live comfortable."
Then there's the story of Katherine Underwood of Blackwood, a nine-year retail worker who, as an Assistant Manager, earns just a buck an hour more than an entry level cashier. She's got to support a child and a husband fighting cancer. "I can't live on just barely minimum wage. I can't pay bills." she said. "So if minimum wage went up to the 15, it would make the world of a difference."
Norcross's proposal would increase the federal minimum wage by 75 cents the first year, then a dollar an hour each year until it reached 15 dollars. Increases after that would be tied to the rate of inflation. Tax breaks would also be offered to small businesses that pay their workers over the minimum at any incremental level.
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