Gov. Jerry Brown joined supporters from across the state today in Los Angeles to sign landmark legislation that makes California the first state in the nation to commit to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023.
“This is an important day,” said the governor in a statement. “It’s not the end of the struggle but it’s a very important step forward.”
Last week, both houses approved the wage-hike bill on largely partisan votes of 26-12 in the Senate and 48-26 in the Assembly. The votes came just three days after Brown and legislative and labor leaders unveiled the wage hike plan at a news conference at the state Capitol.
“Today California leads the nation once again, passing a historic minimum wage increase that will help lift millions of hardworking men and women out of poverty,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement. “Last year, I led efforts to raise the wage in Los Angeles, and we watched a wave of cities follow suit. We are fighting against income inequality with every tool we have.”
The new law will raise the minimum wage in increments, starting with a hike to $10.50 an hour on Jan. 1 for businesses with more than 25 employees. On Jan. 1, 2018, the wage will go to $11 an hour and then increase $1 each year until reaching $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2022. Businesses with 25 employees or fewer will have an additional year to hit each minimum wage level; all businesses will be paying $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2023.
But some local business groups are concerned about the law’s potential impact on business owners already adjusting to a statewide wage hike earlier this year.
“This deal is yet another incentive for any business that might consider leaving California for a better business climate,” said Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) in the San Fernando Valley.
After the wage reaches $15 an hour, there will be annual hikes pegged to the Cost of Living Index, with a cap of 3.5 percent for any single increase.
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