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Los Angeles - California, New York Enact US-highest $15 Minimum Wages

Published on: April 4, 2016 12:50 PM
Last updated on: April 4, 2016 02:49 PM
By: AP
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (C) is applauded after he signed  a law that will gradually raise New York's minimum wage to $15, at the Javits Convention Center, in New York,  April 4, 2016. Standing, left to right, are New York state Sen. Jeffrey Klein, New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. REUTERS/Richard Drew/PoolNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (C) is applauded after he signed a law that will gradually raise New York's minimum wage to $15, at the Javits Convention Center, in New York,  April 4, 2016. Standing, left to right, are New York state Sen. Jeffrey Klein, New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. REUTERS/Richard Drew/Pool

Los Angeles - California and New York acted Monday to gradually push their statewide minimum wages to $15 an hour — the highest in the nation — as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders again seized on wage disparity and the plight of the working poor as a defining issue in the presidential race.

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Clinton joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he signed the law that will gradually boost that state’s pay rate and she predicted the movement will “sweep our country.”

In a statement, Sanders said his campaign is about building on the steps in California and New York “so that everyone in this country can enjoy the dignity and basic economic security that comes from a living wage.”

In Los Angeles, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that will lift the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.

Together with New York, it marks the most ambitious moves yet to close the national divide between rich and poor. Experts say other states may follow, given Congress’ reluctance to act despite entreaties from President Barack Obama.

“This is about economic justice. It’s about people. It’s about creating a little, tiny amount of balance in a system that every day becomes more unbalanced,” Brown said before signing the bill at the Ronald Reagan State Building.

California Gov. Jerry Brown lifts a signed bill creating highest statewide minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2022 at the Ronald Reagan building in Los Angeles, Monday, April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)California Gov. Jerry Brown lifts a signed bill creating highest statewide minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2022 at the Ronald Reagan building in Los Angeles, Monday, April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Republicans and business groups warn that the move could cost thousands of jobs, while a legislative analysis puts the cost to California taxpayers at $3.6 billion a year in higher pay for government employees.

A $15 base wage will have “devastating impacts on small businesses in California,” Tom Scott, executive director of the state branch of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement. “Ignoring the voices and concerns of the vast majority of job creators in this state is deeply concerning and illustrates why many feel Sacramento is broken.”

Democrats who control the Legislature approved the increase Thursday, days after the agreement was announced. The measure passed with no Republican support.

The bill will bump the state’s $10 hourly minimum by 50 cents next year and to $11 in 2018. Hourly $1 raises will then come every January until 2022, unless the governor imposes a delay during an economic recession. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees have an extra year to comply.

Wages will rise with inflation each year thereafter.

The Democratic governor negotiated the deal with labor unions to head off competing labor-backed ballot initiatives that would have imposed swifter increases with fewer safeguards.

About 2.2 million Californians now earn the minimum wage, but University of California, Irvine, economics professor David Neumark estimated the boost could cost 5 to 10 percent of low-skilled workers their jobs.

Brown has said California, with the world’s eighth largest economy, can absorb the raises without the problems predicted by opponents.

California and Massachusetts currently have the highest statewide minimum wage at $10. Washington, D.C., stands at $10.50. Los Angeles, Seattle and other cities have recently approved $15 minimum wages, while Oregon officials plan to increase the minimum to $14.75 an hour in cities and $12.50 in rural areas by 2022.

New York’s state budget includes gradually raising the $9 minimum wage to $15, starting in New York City in three years and phasing in at a lower level elsewhere. An eventual statewide increase to $15 would be tied to economic indicators such as inflation.

Supporters of the new minimum wage law celebrate after California Governor Jerry Brown signed landmark minimum wage legislation which makes California the  first state  in the nation  to commit to  raising the minimum wage to 15 US dollars an hour in Los Angeles, California, USA, 04 April 2016.   The SB3 law will gradually raise the minimum wage reaching 15 US dollars an hour in 2022.  EPA/MIKE NELSONSupporters of the new minimum wage law celebrate after California Governor Jerry Brown signed landmark minimum wage legislation which makes California the first state in the nation to commit to raising the minimum wage to 15 US dollars an hour in Los Angeles, California, USA, 04 April 2016.  The SB3 law will gradually raise the minimum wage reaching 15 US dollars an hour in 2022.  EPA/MIKE NELSON


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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Apr 04, 2016 at 01:22 PM The_Truth Says:

The only voters being mobilized are those receiving less than minimum wage now. Of all the others: the unemployed and the ones employing those on minimum wage, will be mobilized against democrats, as either they will now have to pay more to employees, or if unemployed, will find it more difficult to get a job.

2

 Apr 04, 2016 at 02:37 PM LashOut Says:

Reply to #1  
The_Truth Says:

The only voters being mobilized are those receiving less than minimum wage now. Of all the others: the unemployed and the ones employing those on minimum wage, will be mobilized against democrats, as either they will now have to pay more to employees, or if unemployed, will find it more difficult to get a job.

A $5 an hour pay rise...over the next 7 years. I somehow doubt that this is going to affect the job market that badly.

3

 Apr 04, 2016 at 02:37 PM ModernLakewoodGuy Says:

This is basically 72 cents an hour raise each year over the next 7 years. Anyone who is opposed to this should try supporting a family on the current minimum wage.

4

 Apr 04, 2016 at 03:52 PM Anonymous Says:

I think it should be revenue neutral. And so if via proposing higher minimum wages more people are off government programs its worthwhile. We can then afford to lower taxes on struggling business owners. I fear that their will be an outcry when many minimum wage employees get thrown off programs. And the government will just raise the max income threshold rather than leaving it as is.

5

 Apr 04, 2016 at 05:38 PM eli845 Says:

If it is so unfair and so needed, why not make it law now? What's the wait? Can anyone explain?

6

 Apr 05, 2016 at 09:31 AM Realist77 Says:

Reply to #5  
eli845 Says:

If it is so unfair and so needed, why not make it law now? What's the wait? Can anyone explain?

Business owners need time to figure out how they will pay their employees. Their choices are firing employees or raising their prices.

7

 Apr 06, 2016 at 02:59 AM Anonymous Says:

Just make it $30 an hour. Or $40. Or $150. Don't we all want to live well?

Oh wait. Then a bag of flour will be $20 instead of $4. And a bottle of water will be $10. Minimum wage earners won't be able to afford more And more will be out of a job. No more cashiers- automatic checkouts only. and anyone who made $15 before it going to get a raise, so they now are "minimum wage earners" and can barely make ends meet. Yay for "feel good policies" that lack logic.

8

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