Bill proposes higher min. wage in Calif.

April 24, 2012 at 7:33 PM
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SACRAMENTO, April 24 (UPI) -- California lawmakers are pushing to link the state's minimum wage to the consumer price index.

As the price of gasoline per gallon in California is over $4, Assembly Bill 1439, proffered by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, would raise the minimum wage of $8 an hour by 14 cents by next January, The Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday.

The proposed legislation also prohibits lowering the minimum wage if the consumer price index drops.

"When minimum-wage workers have more money to spend, they spend it," Alejo said. "They can't afford to save it. That is good for all businesses."

The state Chamber of Commerce, however, has labeled the bill as a "job killer."

"Now is not the time to increase the cost of doing business in California, when businesses are just now showing signs of recovery," said Jennifer Barrera, a chamber lobbyist.

Others say the bill doesn't do enough. Economist Sylvia Allegretto of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California Berkeley, said the state's $8 rate is worth less, when adjusted for inflation, than the minimum wage in 1979.

"I'd rather see a bump in the minimum wage [now], then indexing along with it, year after year, so it doesn't erode," she said.

Alejo proposed a bump-and-index bill last year, but it was killed before reaching the Assembly.

I'm trying to see if we can find a middle ground" with the new proposal, he said.

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