LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP)- Gov. Jerry Brown has put his signature on a bill that will hike California’s minimum wage to $10 an hour within three years.
The legislation signed Wednesday will raise the current minimum of $8 an hour to $9 on July 1, 2014, and then to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016.
It’s the first increase in California’s minimum wage in six years.
Brown was in Los Angeles Wednesday morning to sign the bill. At noon, he appeared at Oakland’s Cypress Mandela Training Center, which offers job training programs for Bay Area residents.
“The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs,” Brown said in a statement. “This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.”
The bill, authored by state Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, was amended earlier this month to move up the schedule for the wage bump.
The state’s last minimum wage increase was in 2008, when it rose by 50 cents to $8 per hour.
The change comes amid a national debate over whether it is fair to pay fast-food workers, retail clerks and others wages so low that they often have to work second or third jobs.
Democrats have said the bill by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, would help workers left behind during the recent recession.
“It simply gives hardworking Californians the dignity and respect to provide for their families with their own hard-earned wages,” Alejo said in arguing for the bill before his Assembly colleagues earlier this month.
Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, said raising the minimum wage will stimulate the economy by giving lower-wage workers more money to spend.
“They’re not going to put it into a hedge fund,” he said.
But Republican lawmakers said it would do the opposite, encouraging businesses to cut jobs and automate.
“This is a classic example with how out-of-touch state leaders are,” said Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber.
Addressing concerns that the wage increase could hurt small businesses because of the cost of paying workers more, Brown said he believes the bill fits his philosophy of pushing for change, “but not pushing too hard,” and will ultimately boost the economy.
“We all know that when workers make more, they spend more,” he said.
Phil Jaber, owner of Bay Area coffee chain Philz Coffee, shook Brown’s hand and thanked him for signing the bill. He said he has long made living wages a priority for his employees.
Jaber said minimum wage increases in San Francisco and San Jose have helped both his staff and his business, which continues to expand throughout the region.
One of his workers, 26-year-old Tracy resident Yaveth Gomez, said he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in film studies four years ago but is relying on his job at Philz to pay his bills.
Gomez said he hopes to find a paying job in his field before the wage hike takes effect, but that if he doesn’t, the higher wage will help him cover the cost of gas and other necessities.
State Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, one of several Bay Area legislators at Cypress Mandela Training Center Wednesday afternoon, said he believes the minimum wage raise will make a difference for struggling families even in the pricier parts of the Bay Area.
Many of his constituents, he said, are holding down multiple minimum-wage jobs in order to make ends meet.
“If in even one of those jobs they’re making more, that will help,” Bonta said.
The state’s last minimum wage increase was in 2008, when it rose by 50 cents to $8 per hour. California is among many states with a minimum wage above the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25, but has a lower minimum wage than some states including Oregon, Washington and Illinois, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
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