News Column

California Minimum Wage Faces Key Vote

August 7, 2013

Jack Katzanek

economics minimum wage

The bill to increase California's minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2018 faces a key legislative contest Monday at a hearing before the Senate's Appropriations Committee.

AB 10, proposed late last year by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, would increase the hourly wage 25 cents, to $8.25 per hour, on Jan. 1, 2014. After that it would go to $8.75 per hour at the start of 2015 and $9.25 in 2016 before topping at $10 on Jan. 1, 2018.

It would mean that in 2018 a minimum wage worker in California who puts in a standard work week will have gross earnings of $80 more than she or he has now.

The bill has already been ratified by the Assembly and passed the Senate's Labor and Industrial Relations Committee by a 3-1 vote in June. The Senate's Appropriations Committee will take up the bill Monday.

Alejo, who introduced AB 10 about a month after last November's election, had proposed similar bills in 2011 and 2012. Neither one got through the appropriations committee, making Monday's hearing a critical one. Hearings in the Assembly during the winter and spring passed largely on party-line votes.

The bill was amended several months to remove an element that would have tied future minimum wage increases to the rate of inflation. Business leaders objected to that aspect of AB 10 because they said this created some uncertainty when planning budgets for the next year.

In a statement released following the Labor Committee vote in June, Alejo said that increasing minimum wage in California would help businesses and the economy by putting more spending money in people's pockets.

"They just can't afford to save it," Alejo said in the statement.

California's last minimum wage increase went into effect Jan. 1, 2008 and was signed into law by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Also, there is a concurrent effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour in three increments. That move, currently pending in Congress, was spurred by a proposal in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

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