Minimum wage protesters. Photo credit:

A proposal to raise California’s minimum wage to $15 by 2021 qualifies for the November ballot, it was announced Tuesday.

The California Secretary of State’s office certified that initiative organizers had collected the necessary 402,468 signatures to be immediately placed on the ballot.

The Fair Wage Act of 2016 would raise California’s minimum wage to $11 in 2017 and then gradually increase it a dollar a year until it reaches $15 in 2021. Once the minimum wage reaches $15, it will automatically be adjusted each year to keep pace with the cost of living. California’s minimum wage is currently $10 an hour, which amounts to less than $21,000 a year for a full-time worker.

“California has often been the incubator of ideas and policies that spread across the country – this initiative fits that mold and will make our state the leader in the fight against income inequality,” said California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Advocates of the ballot initiative say it will improve the lives of millions, generate more income tax revenue for state and local government to spend on schools, roads and parks, reduce government spending needed to aid the poor, and will grow the economy as the higher wages are spent in workers’ communities.

But opponents say the change would put small businesses in jeopardy.

According to a Field Poll from last year, 68 percent of registered California voters support the initiative.

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