California’s key financial committee declines to take up minimum wage bill

California’s key financial committee declines to take up minimum wage bill

A key financial committee on Thursday declined to take up a bill that would increase California's minimum wage to $13 an hour over the next couple of years and tie future increases to inflation.

Refusing to take up SB3, the Assembly Appropriations Committee said lawmakers would instead review various alternatives to the controversial measure, including setting regional minimum wages.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, a democrat from San Diego, said she asked the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) to help develop alternatives for increasing the minimum wage.

SB3, authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), seeks to increase the minimum wage to $11 in 2016 and $13 in 2017 and tie it to that rate of inflation starting in 2019. Leno said he made an offer to make amendments in his bill to delay implementation of the wage increase for one more year but the committee refused to hear the bill.

In a written statement, Leno said, "Any further study or delay of such an increase undermines working Californians who deserve to be paid a living wage. It should not be legal to pay sub-poverty wages in our state, and we must act soon to lift our communities out of poverty and to boost our economy." The lawmaker added that he and other supporters intended to pass the amended version of the measure to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk in January.

The bill was severely criticized by the California Chamber of Commerce. The chamber lobbied against the wage increase and called it a "job killer," arguing that it would force companies to cut jobs.