California's minimum wage would rise to $10 an hour within three years under a bill passed Thursday by the state Legislature, making it one of the highest rates in the nation.
Washington state currently has the top minimum wage at $9.19 an hour, an amount that is pegged to rise with inflation. Some cities, including San Francisco, have slightly higher minimum wages.
The state Senate approved AB10 on a 26-11 vote and the Assembly followed hours later on a 51-25 vote, both largely along party lines. Gov. Jerry Brown indicated earlier this week that he would sign the bill, calling it an overdue piece of legislation that would help working-class families.
The bill would gradually raise California's minimum wage from the current $8 an hour to $10 by 2016.
It would be the first increase in the state's minimum wage in six years and comes amid a national debate over whether it is fair to pay fast-food workers, retail clerks and others wages so low that they often have to work second or third jobs.
Democrats said the bill by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, would help workers left behind during the recent recession.
"It simply gives hardworking Californians the dignity and respect to provide for their families with their own hard-earned wages," Alejo said in arguing for the bill before his Assembly colleagues.
Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, said raising the minimum wage will stimulate the economy by giving lower-wage workers more money to spend.
"They're not going to put it into a hedge fund," he said.
But Republican lawmakers said it would do the opposite, encouraging businesses to cut jobs and automate.
"This is a classic example with how out-of-touch state leaders are," said Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber.
I'm going to give you a hint as to which side is right: they call it the Law of Supply and Demand BECAUSE IT'S A FREAKIN' LAW! LIKE SCIENCE! LIKE FACT! LIKE REALITY! LIKE GRAVITY!
If you raise the price of something (in this case, low-skilled labor), the purchasers of it will purchase less of it, either opting to do without (hiring fewer workers) or else substituting some other "good" (automation). Q.E. f'in D.
Stupid is as stupid does.