California’s governor Jerry Brown and legislators have given the state’s unions what they want, with a promise to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15/hour over six years.
The deal, if passed in the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, would add to a wave of minimum wage increases at the state level in the United States, where the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour for more than six years.
The agreement, as reported by the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee, would gradually raise the minimum wage in the most populous U.S. state from the current $10 to $15 in 2022. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees would have one extra year to comply with the proposed law.
But the idea has drawn fierce opposition from conservatives and some business groups, who have said a higher minimum would harm small businesses and strain the budgets of government agencies forced to pay more to workers.
“Let’s start by calling this irresponsible,” said Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute, a fiscally conservative think-tank that has argued against minimum wage hikes.
“When you talk about these really massive jumps it’s no longer an impact at the margin, it’s the sort of thing that could be the difference between a business staying open and closing,” he added.
In 2013, Brown signed into law a measure that gradually increased the minimum wage from $8 to $10 an hour in 2016. But he said earlier this year that any future increase has to be done “very carefully” and over time.
The latest proposal would allow a sitting governor to stop the increases in the event of a recession, the Bee reported.
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