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$10 an hour: Minimum wage in California boosted to largest in the nation

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 13th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

California's current minimum wage, $8 an hour, will go to $9 in July and then $10 by the year 2016, making it the highest such wage in the nation. The California Legislature, in its final hours of its 2013 regular session, voted to hike the minimum wage. Democrats praised the measure as a boon to struggling families across the state. Republicans lambasted the measure as a "job killer."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - California Governor  Jerry Brown has already promised to sign the bill. Protesting fast-food workers across the country have spurred discussion about raising the minimum wage nationwide. "This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy," Brown said earlier this week.

The state Senate voted 26-11 to pass Assembly Bill 10 authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) and the Assembly followed suit by agreeing 51-25 to Senate amendments, sending the bill to Brown. The Assembly had passed an earlier version of the bill in May.

Republican lawmakers along with business groups denounced the measure. They argue that they are putting California's slow economic recovery at risk.

The bill put's California minimum wage past Washington state, which now leads all states with a $9.19-per-hour minimum wage.

If wages go too high, businesses will only automate more and industries will hirer fewer people who need work, Senator Steve Knight (R-Antelope Valley) argues.

"Obviously there's a tipping point," he said. "We are still in a recession. ... It's tough to get a job out there."

The minimum wage has been a highly sensitive and charged topic in the state and elsewhere for some time now. San Jose voters last November approved raising the city's minimum wage to $10, joining San Francisco as one of only a handful of cities nationwide with their own wage floors.

American fast-food workers staged a one-day walkout in August to demand $15 an hour. The mayor of Washington, D.C., vetoed an increase to $12.50 that had been staunchly opposed by Wal-Mart and other major retailers.

The wage bill was one of several hotly contested bills that passed in the session's final days. A "Domestic Worker Bill of Rights," which would require that in-home workers be paid overtime rates, was also sent to the governor on Thursday.

Governor Brown saw a divergent amount of bills cross his desk this week. There are bills to regulate oil and gas fracking; to partially withdraw California from a federal immigration and deportation dragnet; and to enact a wide range of strict new gun controls.

Here are the states with the highest minimum wages as of now:

Washington: $9.19
Oregon: $8.95
Vermont: $8.60
Connecticut: $8.25
District of Columbia: $8.25
Illinois: $8.25
Nevada: $8.25
California: $8

The national minimum wage is $7.25; four states have minimum wages of less than that, and five states have no minimum wage.

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