After an agreement was reached between Assembly leadership and Governor Jerry Brown on Monday, this compromise bill to gradually raise California’s minimum wage to $15 hour sailed through the Assembly this week and is headed to the governor’s desk for his signature.
The LA Times reports, Historic minimum wage measure heads to Gov. Brown:
In a move that puts California at the forefront of efforts to raise wages for low-income workers across the country, the Legislature approved a sweeping plan Thursday to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years, boosting the future paychecks of millions of the state’s workers.
The Senate voted 26 to 12 — with loud cheers of “Si se puede” from the gallery above — to give final approval and send the measure to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk less than one week after a legislative compromise. Brown will sign the wage hike into law in Los Angeles on Monday.
The plan passed the state Assembly earlier Thursday, 48 to 26[.]
Under the plan, the state’s hourly minimum wage would increase from the current $10 to $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2017, then to $11 the following year, and increase by $1 annually until 2022.
Businesses with fewer than 26 employees would get an additional year to comply, and Brown and his successors could delay the increases by one year in the case of an economic downturn. Assuming no pauses, the minimum wage would increase each year based on inflation starting in 2024.
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All but two Democrats — Assembly members Tom Daly of Anaheim and Adam Gray of Merced — voted for the increase, and not a single Republican in either chamber voted for the measure. Both raised concerns about the automatic cost-of-living increases that would raise the wage higher than $15 an hour as soon as 2024.
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Democratic lawmakers exhorted their colleagues to think of the difficulties of working families in a state with large income
inequality and high housing costs.
“This is an argument about economic justice,” Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) said during floor debate. “Justice is not something that can be negotiated or compromised.”
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Economists have estimated the measure would increase the pay of 5.6 million workers across the state — nearly 1 in 3. No state has a minimum wage higher than California’s $10 an hour, and this deal will put California on a path to remain the highest in the country.
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Thursday’s action came after a whirlwind week in the Capitol, with Brown formally outlining the plan on Monday.
The package is less aggressive than two labor-sponsored ballot measures that would have increased the minimum wage to $15 an hour more quickly.
The leverage created by the ballot measures spurred Brown, who previously had been hostile to raising the wage beyond its current levels, to make a deal.
Brown’s decision, followed by swift legislative approval, marks the biggest success yet for a national movement backed by labor unions to increase minimum wages to $15 an hour.
Though major cities, including Los Angeles, have increased their minimum wage to that level, no state had done the same until Thursday, though New York is considering a similar measure.
Earlier in the week, both Democratic presidential candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, expressed their support for California’s decision.
On the opposite coast, New York also agreed to a $15 minimum wage for New York City. New York Budget Deal With Higher Minimum Wage Is Reached:
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state legislative leaders announced on Thursday that they had reached a budget agreement that would raise the minimum wage in New York City to $15 by the end of 2018, but initiate slower increases elsewhere, even in the city’s wealthy suburbs.
For Mr. Cuomo, the wage agreement came with clear concessions, as some lawmakers outside the city won a softer phase-in period. Long Island and Westchester County will not reach a $15 wage for nearly six years; areas north of Westchester are assured only of reaching $12.50 by 2021.
In announcing the $15 wage, New York became the second state to embrace that threshold; California lawmakers passed a similar measure only hours earlier on Thursday.
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With the minimum wage deal and another hard-fought measure — one that would eventually provide employees across the state 12 weeks of paid time off to care for newborns or sick relatives and for families dealing with military deployments — the governor was able to claim victory on two signature issues.
Nonetheless, the wage agreement fell short of the sweeping statewide vision the governor had laid out in his State of the State address in January and championed in a subsequent labor-backed campaign named in honor of his father: the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice.
Still, Mr. Cuomo, who had fought hard for the higher wage, cast the increase as a major accomplishment on Thursday, both for working people and for his own political brand.