The bill that could take California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour crossed a key hurdle today as it inches closer to becoming law.
The State Assembly’s Appropriations Committee voted 12-to-7 in favor of the bill, which resulted from discussions between labor groups and Gov. Jerry Brown and was officially unveiled Monday. The bill will now go before the entire Assembly with a vote that could come as early as Thursday.
The landmark bill would raise starting wages in the state to $15 by 2022 with incremental increases that begin Jan. 1, when the minimum wage would go up to $10.50 an hour. Minimum wage in the state sits at $10 an hour.
The bill is seen as key in unifying a patchwork of policies that have emerged more recently as some municipalities have enacted their own wage hikes. Among the more recent was the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last year, which approved similar minimum wage policies.
The plans in Los Angeles and L.A. County were met with mixed reactions within the apparel and retail industry as business owners argued they were sheltered from any impact due to the higher wages they already pay their workers. Others criticized the measure, saying it will create an inevitable chain reaction throughout a business’s entire pay scale.
Some 2.2 million workers earn minimum wage in California. A state analysis looking at the fiscal effect, if the bill is passed, estimates annual costs of $40 million for the first-year increase to $10.50 an hour. The cost, once minimum wage reaches $15 an hour, would be about $3.6 billion, according to the analysis.