JERRY BROWN: ‘Economically, minimum wage may not make sense’… Signs legislation anyway
Gov. Jerry Brown, casting a living wage as a moral imperative while questioning its economic rationale, signed legislation Monday raising California’s mandatory minimum to $15 an hour by 2022, acting within hours of a similar bill signing in New York.
The bill’s enactment comes one week after Brown, Democratic lawmakers and labor leadersannounced an agreement on the wage increase, averting a brawl on the November ballot.
In adopting the measure, California joined New York as the first states in the nation to enact a plan to raise their statewide minimums to $15. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed his state’s legislation and was cheered by labor unions at a rally moments before Brown spoke in California.
Brown, a fiscal moderate, had previously expressed reservations about a wage increase. But amid growing concern about income inequality in California and the national thrust of the labor-backed “Fight for 15” campaign, his hand was forced. Public opinion polls showed strong support for increasing the state’s mandatory minimum beyond its current $10.
The compromise Brown offered lawmakers – then celebrated with a bill-signing in Los Angeles – includes a provision allowing the governor to postpone a wage increase in the event of an economic downturn. It replaces a ballot measure that, if passed, would have raised the minimum wage to $15 by 2021, a year faster.
Brown, traveling to the state’s largest media market to sign the landmark bill, remained hesitant about the economic effect of raising the minimum wage, saying, “Economically, minimum wages may not make sense.”
But he said work is “not just an economic equation,” calling labor “part of living in a moral community.”