New min wage law clears CA Senate committee

New min wage law clears CA Senate committee

Raise the Min Wage sketchTwo minimum wage hikes in two years for California? Just a year after Gov. Jerry Brown signed one minimum wage hike into law, the California Senate’s Labor and Industrial Relations Committee last week greenlit an even faster and more sweeping boost. Last year, Brown signed Assembly Bill 10, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, which boosted the state’s current $8 minimum wage this way:

  • $9 on July 1, 2014
  • $10 on Jan. 1, 2016

Now Senate Bill 935, by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would go well beyond AB10. The new, faster progression would be:

  • $9 on July 1, 2014 (from current law)
  • $11 on Jan. 1, 2015
  • $12 on Jan. 1, 2016
  • $13 on Jan. 1, 2017

Beginning in 2018, the wage would be indexed to the U.S. Consumer Price Index in that and subsequent years. The increase would be $8 in early 2014 to $13 in 2017. The boost would be $5 an hour, or 63 percent.

High cost of living

Current data show that, for Californians, rent and the cost of living are near the top for the nation. According to a new report issued by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, California is the second least affordable state in the nation for renters. That would seem to indicate that a higher minimum wage is necessary just to afford decent housing in California. However, NLIHC president Sheila Crowley claimed minimum-wage increases alone cannot make up for a lack of adequate affordable housing.


As they have in the past, opponents of a higher minimum wage will point to a 2012 U.S. Census Bureau study, which found:

  • Minimum wage workers tend to be young. Although workers under age 25 represented only about one-fifth of hourly paid workers, they made up about half of those paid the Federal minimum wage or less. Among employed teenagers paid by the hour, about 21 percent earned the minimum wage or less, compared with about 3 percent of workers age 25 and over. (See table 1 and table 7.)….
  • The proportion of hourly paid workers earning the prevailing federal minimum wage or less declined from 5.2 percent in 2011 to 4.7 percent in 2012. This remains well below the figure of 13.4 percent in 1979, when data were first collected on a regular basis. (See table 10.)”

In short, few minimum-wage workers are heads-of-household supporting families by paying rent or a mortgage.


Brown also is unlikely to back Leno’s bill. Brown signed last year’s minimum wage increase only after a cost-of-living section was removed by Alejo. Brown likely wouldn’t go for it this year. Brown also knows his Republican opponent in November will charge him with being anti-business. He wouldn’t want to confirm that charge by backing Leno’s much higher minimum wage boost.


President Obama also has been pushing for a higher minimum wage. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. In January, he signed a controversial executive order raising that to $10.10 — but only for federal workers. He also called for a similar hike for all U.S. workers. However, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is highly unlikely to back such an increase.

Unz initiative

Back in California, a lack of momentum scuttled tech entrepreneur Ron Unz’s attempt to get his own $12 an hour minimum wage initiative on the ballot this year. Blaming disinterest from unions and fellow conservatives alike, Unz insisted a higher in-state minimum wage would still help address national immigration and Social Security challenges. In California, however, the political battle lines make it hard for an unorthodox approach like Unz’s to swing influential figures or ordinary voters. On SB935, attention now turns to the full Senate.


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  1. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 31 March, 2014, 18:23

    If your good you make money….Selling yourself to a union or fascist politicians is not personal freedom..OH WELL..

    Who minds a three buck buttermilk donut or a fast food joint’s eight buck rusty salad!

    Reply this comment
    • Karl Bonner
      Karl Bonner 3 April, 2014, 00:49

      Nonsense. Capitalists have been screwing workers for over 35 years now, relative to their productivity.

      Reply this comment
  2. Ronald Stein
    Ronald Stein 1 April, 2014, 06:09

    Raising the minimum wage is only a band aid over the wound for the middle class, but does not heal the wound for the middle class.

    Government actions resulting in over regulations on businesses, over taxation and uncontrollable fees are contributing to the middle class becoming an endangered species as the inequality has deepened. The results are that consumers are paying for over regulations to businesses.

    Extra costs resulting from government actions on businesses are a slight inconvenience to those making the big bucks such as those making the big bucks. Those behind the over regulations, over taxation, and uncontrollable “fees” on businesses are mostly the highly compensated, and most with sweet defined retirement benefit packages waiting for them upon retirement, i.e., those that CAN afford the higher costs that trickle down to all citizens for products and services.

    Those that earn less than $20 per hour, which includes virtually all those in the food and hospitality industries, are the ones that can least afford higher costs for power, transportation fuels, and food. There is minimal impact to those that can afford the results of our relentless business unfriendly efforts, but little hope for those that barely exist at today’s cost of living.

    How will the political environment explain to the middle and poor classes why over regulations and more costs being imposed on businesses is helping to improve the inequality of the middle class that has been growing rather than shrinking?

    Reply this comment
  3. Billybs
    Billybs 1 April, 2014, 14:23

    As long s business has a place to go without unions, more unions won t work. Oh I know, put the unions in charge of well…everything. One world government run by unions. Come on China, sign right here to turn the PRC over to SEIU.
    Oops, now we have to get Bangladesh to sign up.
    The unions worked in different economy without globalization.
    Oh wait, unionize everything, put up trade barriers to all who don t go along.
    That will work. May want to store up all the supplies of rare earth elements…don t want to do that. Damn, anti-union country who won t sell what we need. Invade them.
    A bit more complicated than the standard moocher can understand.

    Reply this comment
  4. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 2 April, 2014, 21:50

    Raising the minimum wage is a GOOD thing because it eliminates the hidden banquet of taxpayer-funded subsidies that allow these corporations to pay their work force rock bottom wages.

    Consider your average McDonald’s worker. Even at full time on minimum wage they are still eligible for a smorgasbord of benefits: WIC, SNAP, EITC, Medicare (Medical), and if they really do their homework they can get help with the rent, utilities, clothing, etc etc….ad infinitum.

    I don’t know about you but I consider the current profitability of the McDonald’s Corporation, dishing out pink slime burgers, worthy of subsidization. Ditto the hospitality industry….

    Bottom line is that a minimum wage that does not allow minimum standards of survival by the workforce is a hidden subsidy from the taxpayers to the fortune 500.

    Reply this comment

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