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Bill would give California among highest minimum wages

By Don Thompson

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:26 a.m. HST, Sep 13, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. » California's minimum wage would rise to $10 an hour within three years under a bill passed Thursday by the state Legislature, making it one of the highest rates in the nation.

Washington state currently has the top minimum wage at $9.19 an hour, an amount that is pegged to rise with inflation. Some cities, including San Francisco, have slightly higher minimum wages.

The state Senate approved AB10 on a 26-11 vote and the Assembly followed hours later on a 51-25 vote, both largely along party lines. Gov. Jerry Brown indicated earlier this week that he would sign the bill, calling it an overdue piece of legislation that would help working-class families.

The bill would gradually raise California's minimum wage from the current $8 an hour to $10 by 2016.

It would be the first increase in the state's minimum wage in six years and comes amid a national debate over whether it is fair to pay fast-food workers, retail clerks and others wages so low that they often have to work second or third jobs.

Democrats said the bill by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, would help workers left behind during the recent recession.

"It simply gives hardworking Californians the dignity and respect to provide for their families with their own hard-earned wages," Alejo said in arguing for the bill before his Assembly colleagues.

Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, said raising the minimum wage will stimulate the economy by giving lower-wage workers more money to spend.

"They're not going to put it into a hedge fund," he said.

But Republican lawmakers said it would do the opposite, encouraging businesses to cut jobs and automate.

"This is a classic example with how out-of-touch state leaders are," said Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber.

Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin, said liberals want to raise the cost of tobacco to discourage its use without realizing the same principle applies to labor: "If you make something more expensive, people will buy less of it."

The California Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill, saying it will drive up businesses' costs by ratcheting up other wages and workers' compensation payments.

"We have it tagged as a job killer, given the increased costs businesses will be faced with," Jennifer Barrera, an advocate for the chamber, said before the vote.

Federal law sets a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, but California is among 19 states and the District of Columbia that set a higher state minimum wage.

The federal minimum provides $15,080 a year assuming a 40-hour work week, which is $50 below the federal poverty line for a family of two. More than 15 million workers nationally earn the national minimum, which compares to the median national salary of $40,350, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

President Barack Obama has sought an increase of the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour. San Francisco currently has the nation's highest minimum wage at $10.50 an hour.

California's minimum wage would increase to $9 an hour next July 1 and to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016. The bill does not index the rate to inflation, however, meaning it would remain at $10 per hour unless the Legislature raises it again in the future.

Washington and other states that index minimum wage rate hikes to inflation each year would, over time, outpace California's rate unless the state made an adjustment.

A $10 minimum wage would increase earnings for a projected 2 million Californians by $4,000 a year and put $2.6 billion into the economy, Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, estimated in a statement supporting the increase.

Opponents say businesses would suffer because owners also face voter-approved increases in sales and income taxes, and because of the uncertain costs of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Businesses are likely to cut jobs, increase consumer prices or both, they argue, citing a study by the National Federation of Independent Business. The group projects that mean the loss of between 46,000 and 68,000 jobs by 2023, depending on other factors including inflation.

Associated Press writer Laura Olson contributed to this report.

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serious wrote:
And in Hawaii, we have a Special $$$$$$ session so gays can get married. What happened to the minimum wage working class???
on September 13,2013 | 03:34AM
EwaWarrior wrote:
Unfortunately, our governor bent over backwards and the working class got the shaft.
on September 13,2013 | 08:51AM
mikethenovice wrote:
The Republicans will not be able to stop this bill to raise the minimum wage. The minimum wage is not the CEO's pay. It will allow the worker to make ends meet a little easier.
on September 13,2013 | 04:13AM
DiverDave wrote:
Well it might garner votes come election day, but it will surely only serve to make them even less competitive with other countries on the manufacturing and agricultural front. California can expect any company thinking of starting a plant in California to run to other states like Texas. If California really wants to help the "little guy" they should lower taxes. (such as sales taxes). But those tax and spenders never lower anything. Food prices, shipping costs, and clothing will surely cost more, as well as slower hiring of new workers.
on September 13,2013 | 06:47AM
random2cents wrote:
San Francisco has gradually increased their local minimum wage from $8.50 starting in 2004 to the current rate of $10.55 (article is incorrect; not $10.50) based on the rate of inflation. There is no concrete proof that it has slowed the rate of hiring in the city. We do have a high sales tax (9.5%) but there is no tax on food. And we certainly don't have what you would call 'multiple taxing' on goods and services like they do here. The local tax code is robbing the public blind!
on September 13,2013 | 07:21AM
ISCREAM wrote:
There is a significant difference between SF and most any place else...SF is surrounded by high paying technology companies....move off to San Bernardino, Bakersfield...those places are in trouble. People are abandoning those cities in search of employment...and the number of people leaving California has increased DRAMATICALLY! http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org/2013/08/the-exodus-states-people-leaving-new-york-california-and-illinois-in-droves-for-lower-tax-states-map/
on September 13,2013 | 08:07AM
random2cents wrote:
Unless I am totally misreading your article, I believe it is actually proving the point I was trying to make. If migration is due to 'personal income lost or gained' and in California's case (avg. income lost), then wouldn't an increase in the state's minimum wage help the 'average' worker out and possibly help them avoid moving to another state for better work? Not everyone in San Francisco has a high tech job and the increase in minimum wage has helped many other workers, especially those in the retail and food service industry keep up with their expenses and stay in the city. At the very least, I think we all just want to find a happy medium between the cost of living and our personal income no matter where we live.
on September 13,2013 | 09:34AM
Random, you make sense to me.
on September 13,2013 | 02:52PM
ISCREAM wrote:
Just following up...San Francisco's cost of living has significantly increased since the wage scale ramp up going from about 10% above California's average in 2000 to over 30% of the California average with the $10.55/hr wage scale in 2013. This has resulted in pricing every day Californians out of living in SF....a gallon of milk costs over $6 in downtown. On a personal note...I visited this last summer and 3 sundaes at Ghirardelli's was over $35.00 (and they were nothing special).
on September 13,2013 | 09:03AM
tiki886 wrote:
Californication will be the next Detroit!
on September 13,2013 | 09:18AM
cojef wrote:
Hope not, and it is not inevitable so to speak. Pension cost for fireman and police are skyhigh and has bakrupted several California counties, to date. More than 80 % invested in State Bonds so am worried, yes..
on September 13,2013 | 09:54AM
random2cents wrote:
I agree with you Ghiradelli's is nothing special and it's expensive (tourist trap including Fisherman's Wharf). It's like Waikiki here, minus the beach. And I don't know where you bought your milk from but I hope it was at least organic!
on September 13,2013 | 10:03AM
EwaWarrior wrote:
According to this article, the bill ""simply gives hardworking Californians the dignity and respect to provide for their families with their own hard-earned wages," Alejo said in arguing for the bill before his Assembly colleagues." Apparently, hardworking Californian's don have dignity and respect? Get an education and find a better paying job instead!
on September 13,2013 | 08:54AM
droid wrote:
The bottom line is you have to choose between higher minimum wages and less jobs, or lower minimum wages and more jobs. That is the dilemma.
on September 13,2013 | 09:02AM
tiki886 wrote:
A LAW to increase the minimum wage is just more government imposed WELFARE!!!!
on September 13,2013 | 09:20AM
I'd rather think of it as a government subsidation program. Welfare doesnt require one to work, while you dont get the money unless you work.
on September 13,2013 | 02:54PM
AhiPoke wrote:
Ever wonder why California is in one of the worst financial conditions in the nation? Ever wonder why China allowed its economy to move from socialist to capitalist principles and is now booming?
on September 13,2013 | 09:44AM
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