New York -- Governor Jerry Brown of California on Wednesday signed a bill approving a $2 hike in the state’s minimum wage, with the increase to be rolled out during the next three years. The increase will make California's minimum wage the highest in the country.
The wage increase will go into effect in two separate $1 increments, going from the current minimum of $8 to $9 on July 1, 2014, and then to $10, on January 1, 2016.
The bill, known as AB 10, had faced strong opposition from many companies, including the California Restaurant Association and the California Chamber of Commerce, which said small businesses cannot afford to pay more. The coalition also said the new law could backfire by forcing companies to raise prices, cut worker hours or even lay off some employees.
Governor Brown, however, was a strong supporter of the bill, describing it an overdue piece of legislation that will help working-class families. He argued that, for consumers, paying a little more for goods and services was worth the trade-off of giving workers a wage they can live on.
“When you chew on a hamburger or get your car washed, you may pay a few more pennies,” he said. “How many hamburgers does it take to raise the minimum wage next year by a buck? Not too many.”
According to the Economic Policy Institute, about three million people in California currently work for minimum wage.