California & N.Y. Move Closer to $15 Minimum Wage

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California & N.Y. Move Closer to $15 Minimum Wage


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The push to hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour has some heavy hitters behind it.

California Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign into a law a new minimum-wage bill on Monday after the state legislature approved the measure on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

Also on Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reached a tentative deal late Thursday with top lawmakers to raise the Empire State's base wage. The new hourly wage is part of the 2016-2017 state budget. 

"After decades of out-of-control spending, we have in the last five years returned fiscal responsibility to Albany by capping government growth at 2 percent, cutting taxes, and investing in the successful programs that are rejuvenating our upstate economy," Cuomo said. "We've restored New York to a position of national leadership on issues of social justice. We're continuing that progress this year in the fight for economic justice — so that everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, has the chance to succeed. 

"We believe that people who work hard should be able to earn a decent living and support a family with dignity. With a statewide $15 minimum wage and the nation's only 12-week paid family leave program, we are going to prove that the economy can and should work for all," he added. 

President Barack Obama, who first proposed an increase to the $7.25 federal minimum wage in 2013, applauded the states' actions and called on the Republican-controlled Congress to "keep up with the rest of the country," the AP reported.

"California takes a massive leap forward today in the fight to rebalance our nation's economy," said Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation.

Under the plan, the California minimum wage will rise to $10.50 per hour on Jan. 1 for businesses with 25 or more employees, and then rise each year until reaching $15 per hour in 2022. Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees will have additional time to phase in the increases, as CSNews Online previously reported.

Gov. Brown can act by Sept. 1 of each year to pause the next year's wage increase for one year if there is a forecasted budget deficit (of more than 1 percent of annual revenue) or poor economic conditions (negative job growth and retail sales).

According to the AP, the tentative deal reached by New York officials would be phased in regionally in the nation's fourth-largest state. It also would eventually affect more than 2 million workers.

In New York City, the wage would increase to $15 by the end of 2018, though businesses with fewer than 10 employees would get an extra year. In the suburbs of Long Island and Westchester County, the wage would rise to $15 by the end of 2022. 

The increases are even more drawn out upstate, where the wage would hit $12.50 in 2021, then increase to $15 based on an undetermined schedule, the report added.