SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Senate on Monday approved a plan to again raise the state's minimum wage, lifting it to $13 an hour in 2017, then tying it to the rate of inflation after that.
The proposal by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, comes just two years after Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation giving California one of the highest minimum wage rates in the nation. It is currently $9 an hour and will rise to $10 an hour in 2016.
But Leno said that rate does not reflect the cost of living in California. He says his plan would bring workers to the federal poverty level while stimulating the economy. The measure would boost the minimum wage by an additional $1 in 2016, then to $13 an hour starting in 2017.
"Full-time workers in this state should not be forced onto public assistance simply because they earn the minimum wage," Leno said in a statement.
Senators approved the bill on a 23-15 vote, with Republicans opposed, sending it to the state Assembly.
The California Chamber of Commerce has labeled Leno's bill as a "job killer."
Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, said the minimum wage is not intended to support families, but as a "startup wage for kids."
"This wage was made for McDonald's and Burger King, for kids to get involved in a first job," he said.
The minimum-wage increase is part of a push this year by legislative Democrats to help the poor. It comes amid a national conversation about whether low-wage workers should be paid more.
In the Assembly, Democrats were pushing for an income tax credit to benefit working poor families, which Brown incorporated in his budget proposal last month.