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jerrybrownstate.jpgGov. Jerry Brown this morning signed legislation to raise California's minimum wage by 25 percent, from $8 an hour to $10 an hour by 2016.

The bill, celebrated by Brown and his labor union allies at an event in Los Angeles, promises the first increase in California's hourly minimum since 2008, when the minimum wage was raised 50 cents to $8.

After appearing in the state's biggest media market this morning, the Democratic governor is scheduled to fly to Oakland to promote the bill at a second event this afternoon.

Assembly Bill 10, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, will raise the minimum wage from $8 to $9 an hour on July 1, 2014, and to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016.

The bill was the only one of 38 bills designated by the California Chamber of Commerce as a "jobs killers" to make it out of the Legislature this year.

The chamber and other business groups said raising the hourly minimum would unfairly increase business costs and jeopardize California's economic recovery.

California is one of 18 states and the District of Columbia that have minimum wages above the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and California's $10 minimum is likely to be among the highest in the nation in 2016.

Washington currently has the nation's highest state minimum wage, at $9.19 an hour, but that state is one of 10 that provide for automatic adjustments to their minimum wages based on cost of living measures, a provision eliminated from an earlier version of the bill Brown signed.

The California legislation is expected to affect about 1.5 million full-time, year-round workers, about 14 percent of the state's full-time workforce, according to a Bee review of U.S. Census data.

The broader effects of a minimum wage increase are the subject of longstanding debate. The California Budget Project, which advocates for low-income residents, said in a brief this month that California's minimum wage has not kept pace with the rising cost of living and that raising the hourly minimum "would help reverse the decline in the purchasing power of workers' wages."

Proponents of raising the minimum wage say workers who earn more will spend more, stimulating the economy, and will require less government assistance.

Opponents of raising the minimum wage say requiring employers to pay higher wages will force them to offset costs by raising prices, hiring fewer workers or reducing workers' hours.

The National Federation of Independent Business, an advocacy group, released a study in March warning that a minimum wage increase under an earlier version of the California bill could result in the loss of more than 68,000 jobs in California over 10 years.

The Bee's Phillip Reese contributed to this report

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown is escorted by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, left, and Assemblywoman Nora Campos to his right, as he enters the Assembly to present his State of the State speech at the state Capitol on Thursday, January 24, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua



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