Cheers and applause erupted after the California State Senate today pushed through a bill to hike the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2022.
The bill was fast-tracked through the legislature following a weekend deal reached between union officials and Gov. Jerry Brown. The bill was headed to Brown’s desk for approval as of press time. The historic deal would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour via incremental increases that would begin Jan. 1, 2017, thereby creating an official policy statewide amid a patchwork effect that has taken place in recent years as some municipalities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, have passed their own measures raising the minimum wage.
The Senate vote was 26-12 in favor of the bill and followed the Assembly’s 48-26 vote made in the early afternoon.
The bill is expected to fend off two separate measures backed by labor groups that could have made their way onto the November ballot and would not have allowed for temporary stops to the scheduled wage increases, which this bill does should the state see negative job and sales tax growth or should the budget fall into a deficit.
The first increase will take the starting wage from $10 an hour to $10.50 and would impact about two million workers at a cost of $19 million to the state, according to a Department of Finance analysis. The cost to the state’s General Fund is expected to rise to $3.6 billion once minimum wage reaches $15 an hour in 2022 when some four million workers would benefit from the bill, according to the analysis.
The bill has drawn mixed reactions from the apparel manufacturing and retail industries with the heads of both the California Retailers Association and California Fashion Association saying Monday, when Brown announced the deal, that the inevitable effect is increased costs to business.
Meantime, some business owners have argued they’re already paying their workers more than minimum wage or are on track to meet the $15 target.