Minimum wage workers in California have reason to celebrate - a bill passed Thursday in the state Assembly to increase the minimum wage by $1.25 over the next three years.
The current minimum wage is $8 per hour. Assembly Bill 10 mandates that minimum wage will increase to $8.25 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015 and $9.25 in 2016. Beginning in 2017 minimum wage will be adjusted annually based on inflation, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The bill was created by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), and is the first increase since a 50 cent bump in 2008. "The last time the minimum wage was increased in California, gas was at $3.25 a gallon in this state," Alejo told the Associated Press. "I don't know about you, but I haven't seen gas prices at that level for a very long time."
Opponents of the bill, including the California Chamber of Commerce, claim that the bill is a “job killer,” and that it will make it prohibitively expensive for companies to employ new workers, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A study conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a national membership group for small businesses, determined that the bill could result in the loss of 68,000 jobs, according to the AP.
"You have to legislate in the real world," Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner (R-Irvine) told the Los Angeles Times. "You're not doing that if you support this bill."
Alejo disagrees that his bill will slow economic recovery. "When minimum wage workers have more money, they spend it," he told the Sacramento Bee.
Federal law sets a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have set their minimum wage levels higher than the federal standard, according to the AP.
Assembly Bill 10 will now proceed to the state Senate for consideration.