CA Lawmakers move to raise state minimum wage to $15

31 Mar

California lawmakers have reached a tentative deal with labor groups to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years.

The initiative would boost California’s minimum-wage from the current $10 an hour to $15 an hour by January 2021 by increasing about a dollar most years. Backers of another initiative are still collecting signatures for their alternative, which would push the hourly minimum to $15 on July 15, 2020.

The tentative agreement between Gov. Jerry Brown’s office, labor and legislative leaders would raise the minimum to $15 an hour in 2022 and would give small businesses another year beyond that to reach the $15 level, according to Rendon’s email to Assembly Democrats. The added time could be enough to persuade state business leaders to sign on, especially if the more aggressive minimum-wage increase looks like a winner in November.

California has one of the highest minimum wages in the country at $10 an hour. Massachusetts’ minimum wage is also $10 an hour, while Washington, D.C., has the highest at $10.50. Under the deal, the rate would increase by 50 cents the first two years, to $10.50 in 2017 and $11 in 2018, then by $1 per year until it reaches $15 in 2022, according to a source.

The deal was met with a mixture of joy and anxiety across the state Sunday.

Some workers and labor officials hailed it as a breakthrough in providing higher-wage jobs in fields where it’s a struggle to make ends meet. But some business owners feared the shift would hurt their bottom lines — and perhaps even put them out of business. The debate is likely a preview for the weeks ahead as the minimum wage proposal works its way through Sacramento.

Business groups opposed to raising the minimum wage recently created the Consumers Against Higher Prices Committee to fight the ballot initiative. The group includes the California Restaurant Association, the California Retailers Association and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

“It is imperative that lawmakers listen to the voices of their constituents rather than bowing to the will of special interest groups,” the group said Sunday. “If this overreaching deal is passed through the Legislature, it will not solve any of the fundamental problems it seeks to address, and will result in devastating impacts to family-run businesses, education, seniors, services for the disabled, working families and more.”

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