With time running out in the 2018 New Jersey legislative session, Gov. Phil Murphy is imploring lawmakers to pass legislation that would raise the minimum wage in the Garden State.

Right now, the minimum wage is $8.60 an hour in New Jersey, and on Jan.1 it goes to $8.85 -- but Murphy wants a phased-in raise to $15.

During a Monday news conference in Trenton, Murphy said if we want to give Garden State families a boost, “then let’s hope both our holiday wish list and the Legislature’s Dec. 17 board list include putting New Jersey on a responsible and certain path to a $15 an hour minimum wage.”

“Over the past year my commitment has never wavered. My signing pen is at the ready. All I need is a bill on my desk to sign," he said.

The governor thanked Senate President Steve Sweeney “for his longstanding support of this,” as well as Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin D-Middlesex for his support of raising the minimum wage -- but shortly after the news conference Sweeney criticized Murphy, saying he was grandstanding on the issue.

In an emailed statement, Sweeney said this is "no time for staged rallies and dueling press conferences. Let’s sit down, do the hard work and agree on a bill.”

The senate president pointed out he has long supported efforts to raise the minimum wage and said he’s ready to meet with Murphy and Assembly leader Coughlin to work out the details of a measure to phase-in a $15 an hour minimum wage bill so it can be quickly passed.

Coughlin, in a separate email statement, indicated a $15 an hour minimum wage measure will be considered “in the coming weeks.”

Murphy said at his news conference that growing the minimum raise will help support New Jersey's working families and grow its economy.

“We can and we must deliver for these families and ensure a stronger economic future for them and for our state, and there is no better time for us to act than now, in the midst of the holiday season and with the promise of a New Year just ahead," Murphy said.

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake, D-Essex and Passaic, calls for the minimum wage to be gradually increased to $15 an hour over a five-year period.

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