SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Minimum wage-workers in California would earn $10 per hour by 2016 under a bill passed by the state Senate today and expected to clear the Assembly, raising the possibility that the state will become the first in the nation to commit to such a high rate.
The bill, which Governor Jerry Brown said he will sign, would increase the minimum wage for hourly workers in the most populous U.S. state from the current rate of $8 per hour to $9 per hour in July 2014, and to $10 by January 2016.
“The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs," Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement. “This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.”
Brown, protective of the state's tenuous economic recovery, had initially opposed the bill but agreed to support it on Wednesday after leaders of both houses of the Democratic-dominated state legislature agreed to postpone the effective date of the raise until 2016.
The measure won support from Democrats in the state Senate but was opposed by many Republicans, who said it would hurt small businesses and ultimately cost some low-wage workers their jobs.
“The impact of this is not on huge employers,” said Republican Senator Jim Nielsen, who represents much of the far northern part of the state near the Oregon border. “It is on the smaller employer, the mom and pop operation.”
No other state pays $10 per hour to minimum wage workers. The current highest state minimum wage is $9.19 in Washington state.