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jerrybrownprisons.jpgGov. Jerry Brown said Wednesday that he supports raising the minimum wage in California to $10 an hour, urging lawmakers to approve a bill that was amended Wednesday and awaits action in the Senate.

The Democratic governor's announcement came after Assembly Bill 10, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, was amended to raise the minimum hourly wage to $10 sooner than previously proposed.

The measure would raise the minimum hourly wage from $8 to $9 on July 1, 2014, and then to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016. Under an earlier version of the bill, the minimum hourly wage would not have reached $10 until 2018.

"The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs," Brown said in a statement. "This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy."

The legislation is pending in the Senate as lawmakers near the end of session this week. Brown was joined by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, in supporting the bill.

"For millions of California's hard-working minimum wage employees, a few extra dollars a week can make a huge difference to help them provide for their families," Steinberg said in a statement.

The California Chamber of Commerce has included the bill in its annual list of "job killers," saying it would unfairly increase costs on employers.

Alejo said today that the bill is a "modest measure," noting that he agreed to remove an automatic cost-of-living escalator.

"We should have a statewide minimum wage that's fair, that's reasonable and that gives workers the dignity of at least being able to pay their bills and provide for their families with their minimum wage salary," he said.

Brown's wading in on the minimum wage issue is the second time in two days that he has commented on pending action in the Legislature, a rarity for for the governor. On Tuesday, he announced his opposition to a measure to rename part of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge for former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.

The Bee's Jeremy B. White contributed to this report.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters at a news conference at the Capitol on Sept. 9, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua


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