Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday that will raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, bringing praise from a San Diego City Council member and criticism from a regional business leader.
Brown, during a ceremony in Los Angeles, said the passage of SB 3 doesn’t mark the end of the struggle for livable wages, but it’s a big step in the right direction.
“It’s about people,” Brown said. “It’s about creating a little tiny balance in a system that every day becomes more unbalanced.”
The state Assembly and Senate both approved the legislation Thursday, despite opposition from Republicans and business leaders.
Under the legislation, California’s $10-an-hour minimum wage will increase to $10.50 in January 2017, then to $11 on Jan. 1, 2018. The minimum wage will then go up by a dollar in each of the following years until it reaches $15 in 2022, after which it will continue to rise each year by up to 3.5 percent to account for inflation.
Businesses with 25 or fewer employees get an extra year to raise their wage, so that workers will be paid $15 by 2023.
The plan also gives the governor the ability to temporarily halt the raises if there is a forecasted budget deficit of more than 1 percent of annual revenue, or due to poor economic conditions such as declines in jobs and retail sales.
Government workers who provide in-home health services will receive an additional three paid sick days under the plan.
Councilman Todd Gloria, who authored a ballot measure to raise San Diego’s minimum wage and provide workers with five paid annual sick days, called the bill signing a “bold step” in the right direction.
“It’s a strong signal that we get it, and that there are real families that are working very, very hard but not making ends meet,” Gloria told City News Service. “This is an attempt to try and address that — we have more to do.”
In a statement, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jerry Sanders said businesses are still struggling because of the Jan. 1 increase to $10 an hour.
“Now, businesses are facing an additional five years of increased costs and we aren’t providing real opportunities for sustained growth or prosperity,” Sanders said.
“It’s unrealistic to think that this dramatic legislation won’t cause businesses, particularly small businesses, to consider cutting their employees’ hours or letting them go,” Sanders said. “Some may even have to close their doors.”
He said the wage hike is part of a regulatory environment that makes it difficult to conduct business in California and is counterproductive for many of the families in need of solutions.
The wage hike will affect 5.6 million workers, or about one-third of the statewide workforce, officials said.
“Wages are not keeping pace with the cost of living in California. Income inequality continues to grow,” said Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. “This proposal will help millions of hard-working Californians while protecting taxpayers and small businesses if the economy experiences a downturn. We can be prudent and make sure workers are paid a reasonable, livable wage at the same time. It doesn’t have to be a choice.”
President Barack Obama issued a statement in which he commended the state Legislature and the governor for raising the minimum wage and providing the sick days for IHSS workers.
“With these actions, California is expanding its promise to workers that they shouldn’t have to lose a paycheck if they get sick and has ensured that workers will no longer be earning a wage that keeps too many families in poverty,” Obama said.
“Since I first called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage in 2013, 18 states and the District of Columbia have acted on their own to raise the minimum wage,” Obama said. “States and cities are making progress in expanding paid leave. Now it’s time for Congress to step up and do what is right for every hard-working American and for our economy.”
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he’s interested in policies that will put people back to work.
“That’s my focus in terms of growing the economy — which we’ve been doing, decreasing unemployment — which we’ve been doing, and so I want to always make sure that in San Diego, we are remaining competitive with other areas across the state,” Faulconer said.
Labor unions are pushing two separate ballot initiatives aimed at raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Backers of one of the initiatives have said they will drop their effort in light of the new law. Backers of the other initiative said they were waiting until after the bill signing before deciding whether to drop their measure.
— City News Service
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