Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown joined legislators and labor leaders Monday in Sacramento to announce a landmark agreement that would make California the first state in the nation to commit to raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour statewide. (Renée C. Byer rbyer@sacbee.com)

Capitol Alert
By Jim Miller and Jeremy B. White
jmiller@sacbee.com
March 28, 2016 – 7:30 AM

  • Hourly wage would increase to $15 an hour by 2022
  • Announcement comes days after November ballot measure qualifies
  • Business groups call plan ‘reckless’

Gov. Jerry Brown, Democratic leaders and labor leaders Monday touted an agreement that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, saying the pact should avert an expensive ballot fight this fall.

The state’s $10-an-hour minimum wage, already the highest in the country, would rise to $10.50 next Jan. 1 for businesses with 26 or more workers, with subsequent increases to $15 an hour by 2022 and then linked to inflation. California would be the first state to commit to a $15 an hour wage.

Employers with 25 or fewer workers would have more time to phase in the increase. The agreement also allows Brown and his successors to suspend increases during economic downturns or budget deficits.

“Once again California is showing we can do right by workers, we can advance the economy and we can do it through the legislative process,” said Brown, who earlier issuing a statement calling the legislation “careful and responsible.”

Lawmakers will begin considering the measure this week. Democrats have large legislative majorities, but several lawmakers interviewed Monday declined to commit themselves.

Leaving a private meeting of Assembly Democrats, Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, who co-chairs a bloc of business-friendly Democrats, said some lawmakers wanted more details before they took positions.

“It could affect a lot of people. It could affect nonprofits,” Cooper said. “There’s a lot of folks that have questions.”

This plan raises the minimum wage in a careful and responsible way and provides some flexibility if economic and budgetary conditions change.

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