Congressional Democrats are calling on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to drop his plan to lower state worker pay to the federal minimum wage. Here's a copy of the letter, courtesy of Congresswoman Hilda Solis:
July 25, 2008
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:
As Members of the Congress representing California, we write to express our strong opposition to your proposed plan to cut the wages of 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour as a temporary budget savings. The earnings of hardworking state employees should not be leveraged for political gain in the current budget stalemate.
In May 2007, Congress passed the first increase in the federal minimum wage in ten years. On July 24, 2008, the second phase of the increased federal minimum wage began, raising the federal minimum wage to $6.55. While the increases to the federal minimum wage are an improvement for hourly workers, they do not make up for the recent and rapid increases in food, energy and healthcare costs, which have risen even higher in California. In addition, our state has been disproportionately impacted by the nationwide foreclosure crisis and statewide unemployment just reached 6.9 percent. Working families in California who are employed by the state simply cannot afford to have their salary reduced to the federal minimum wage during these incredibly hard economic times, even with the promise of back pay once the budget negotiations are completed.
We have always been incredibly proud to represent California because our state sets the standard for fair wages in the United States. The $8 per hour minimum wage in California, as well as municipal living wage laws, set a benchmark for the rest of the country. By reducing state workers pay to $6.55 per hour, you would not only hurt the 200,000 workers who serve California, but you would also hurt the reputation of California as one of the best states to live and work in the United States.
As Members of the California Congressional delegation, we understand that our state is facing significant budget challenges. However, the California state controller has already stated that cutting workers' salaries will "do nothing meaningful to improve our cash position or help us make our priority payments." We strongly urge you to reconsider your plan to cut 200,000 state workers wages to the federal minimum wage.
HILDA L. SOLIS
LYNN C. WOOLSEY
DORIS O. MATSUI
GRACE F. NAPOLITANO
ADAM B. SCHIFF
LINDA T. SANCHEZ
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER