Under the new law California would have one of the highest minimum wages in the United States. The state’s minimum wage would increase to $9 an hour July 1, 2014 and to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016
The bill passed the state Senate with a 26-11 vote. Hours later, the state Assembly passed it 51-25. Both votes were largely along party lines. Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill into law, raising the minimum wage in California for the first time in six years.
“The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs,” said Brown in a statement released by the Governor's Office. “This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.”
Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins is traveling and could not be reached for comment. Atkins represents San Diego’s District 78.
The Republican Party of San Diego has not answered Examiner.com’s request for comment.
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce also has not answered a request for comment, but the California Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill, arguing that it would increase the cost of doing business in California.
California’s minimum wage is currently $8 an hour, 75 cents higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. 18 other states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the federal law. Various cities also have higher minimum wages. San Francisco has the highest minimum wage in the country at $10.50 an hour.
According to numbers by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Labor, a person making the federal minimum would make $15,080 per year, assuming a 40-hour work week and no time off. For a single person, this is above the federal poverty line. However, for a family of two it is $50 below the poverty line. A family of four with two children under 18 would be $7,203 below the poverty line.
15.1 percent of people in San Diego County live under the poverty line, a 2012 report from the Center on Policy Initiatives states.
In a statement supporting the bill, Assembly Speaker John Perez, a Democrat who represents Los Angeles, said a $10 minimum wage would increase earnings for a projected 2 million Californians by $4,000 a year and put $2.6 billion into the economy.
This action by the state Legislature comes among a national debate about increasing the minimum wage. Fast food and retail workers have gone on strike in large numbers across the country, including in San Diego, arguing that the current minimum wage isn’t fair because it requires them to have multiple jobs to provide for their families. The strikers have been demanding $15 an hour.