The Washington Times - January 28, 2013, 02:27PM

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill Monday to raise the state’s minimum wage by $1.25 per hour, countering with scaled-back plan to phase in a $1 increase over the next three years.

Mr. Christie, who is up for re-election in November and is often speculated about as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, wants to couple a 25-cent hourly increase in the first and third years with a 50-cent increase in the second year.

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Mr. Christie said his proposal is more fiscally sound than the Democrat-driven bill, which calls for a $1.25 wage increase on March 1 to be tied to automatic annual adjustments.

“The sudden, significant minimum-wage increase in his bill, coupled with automatic raises each year tied to the United States consumer prince index, will jeopardize the economic recovery we all seek,” Mr. Christie said in his veto statement.

“We can only build our state’s earnings if we foster an environment that lifts up the working poor and struggling small business alike, the critical participants in our integrated economy. Any legislative initiative that promotes one at the expense of the other is an obstacle to recovery, and an unnecessary ceiling on the growth of our economy,” he said.

Mr. Christie also proposed a 25 percent increase in the state’s earned income tax credit, saying it would put $550 back into the pockets of “struggling working families who most need the help.”

The Democrat-led legislature, meanwhile, is considering putting the issue before voter in the November election.

New Jersey has the same minimum wage, $7.25 per hour, that the federal government imposes nationally. Other states and localities mandate a higher minimum wage.