Thursday, March 31, 2016
California Legislature approves $15 minimum wage increase, will be highest in the US
California lawmakers approved a sweeping plan on Thursday raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years. This will be the nation’s highest statewide minimum wage and it will take effect by 2022.
The Assembly passed SB3 with a 48-26 vote. The the Senate voted 26-12, people cheered the move and "Si se puede" can be heard from the gallery above. The legislation now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, who is expected to sign it into law after previously working out the plan with labor unions. Brown will sign the wage hike into law in Los Angeles on Monday.
Democrats who control both legislative chambers in California praised the move as a boon to more than 2 million of state’s poorest workers. Opponents complained it was rushed and did not include a wide group at the negotiating table. Business owners and economists fears that the yearly increases will be tied to inflation and will make California hostile to business.
The state of New York was considering a similar move.
Under the plan, California's hourly minimum wage would increase from the current $10 to $10.50 on January 1. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees would be given an extra year to comply. Increases of $1 an hour would come every January until 2022. The governor could delay increases in times of budgetary or economic downturns.
California’s current $10 an hour minimum is tied with Massachusetts for the highest among states. Los Angeles, Seattle and other cities have recently approved $15 minimum wages, while Oregon officials plan to increase the minimum to $14.75 an hour in cities and $12.50 in rural areas by 2022.
In New York, Gov. Cuomo and state lawmakers continued to negotiate Thursday over Cuomo’s proposal to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage from $9 to $15 by the end of 2018 in New York City and by mid-2021 elsewhere in the state.