State Capitol

By Don Thompson, Associated Press
Mar. 31, 2016 – 2:22 AM ET

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California state lawmakers are poised to enact the nation’s highest statewide minimum wage on Thursday, with gradual increases to $15 by 2022.

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders are promoting the boost as a matter of economic justice, and as an example to a nation struggling with a growing divide between rich and poor.

“There’s no doubt in this country the gap between the better off and those that struggle at the bottom of our economic world has grown bigger and bigger, and it is quite incredible that there is so much power, so much wealth, and so many people struggling,” the Democratic governor said as he unveiled his agreement with labor unions. “You’ve got a Congress that doesn’t get it, that’s so out to lunch….”

But opponents said the planned votes in the Assembly and Senate will further harm California’s already poor business climate. Economists, meanwhile, warned that some low-wage workers will lose their jobs, even as others see higher paychecks.

Supporters say the raises would benefit more than 2 million Californians earning minimum wage.

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