Californians will not vote this fall on whether the minimum wage should be raised again as inflation continues to wade through households’ budgets.
Initiatives to raise the minimum wage to $18 over the next three years, although controlled by a wealthy investor and backed by several labor unions, failed to qualify for November’s vote.
The secretary of state’s office said enough signatures had not been verified by county election officials by Thursday’s deadline to qualify the measure.
Triggered by a record rate of inflation, which over the past year has driven the consumer price index the biggest increase in four decades, California’s top-of-the-nation minimum wage is already set to rise to $15.50 an hour next January.
If the California Living Wage Act proposal was successful, it would have been increased to $16 the following January and to $18 by 2025, after which the minimum wage would be adjusted annually for cost of living.
Starting in February, the Pahal campaign was one of the subsequent ballot efforts to begin collecting signatures this year. Joe Sanberg, a Los Angeles startup investor-turned-poverty advocate, said he would spend it to get on the ballot. He personally invested $10 million in the campaign, and supporters announced in May that he had signed more than a million.
But the measure, which was opposed by a group of small business owners, fell victim to the time-consuming process of signature verification.
Supporters said they are still trying to measure this fallout on the ballot through “whatever legal means are necessary.”
As of Thursday night’s deadline, the measure was still awaiting signature verification from some of the larger counties, such as San Diego, Kern and Sacramento, which would likely exceed the measure to qualify.
“Nothing should stand between people working and meeting the basic necessities of life – including meaningless bureaucracy,” campaign spokeswoman Anna Bahr said in an email. “It’s a wildly popular, morally righteous remedy.”
It is likely to qualify for the ballot in 2024 – which would create a much faster deadline for an $18 salary to take effect by 2025.
Sanberg, an early investor in food delivery service Blue Apron, is reportedly running for president.
He has also emphasized other anti-poverty measures in Sacramento. And he lobbied for the creation of a state earned income tax credit that gives low-income workers $3,000 a year, and he created a group to help eligible residents receive benefits.
He announced the minimum wage campaign late last year as rising costs began to hit the household budget. Experts worry that inflation will offset the steps taken by the state to reduce poverty during the pandemic, largely from state and federal stimulus programs.
“That’s $24 of pay per day, or $6,240 in additional pay per year for millions,” Sanberg said in an interview in May of the $18 minimum wage. “It means the difference between kids going to school with an empty stomach or a stomach full of healthy food, and it means millions of families will be able to afford or not be able to afford to rent.”
Advocates said the recent price hike has affected the lowest wage earners the most.
‘Results on Main Street’
But raising the minimum wage will put pressure on small employers, who also face rising supply costs and a tight labor market, said John Kabatek, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business’ California chapter, which represents about 15,000 small businesses. Is.
He noted that many employers already offer starting wages above the minimum wage, and raising the state minimum wage would force employers to boost the wages of employees to a higher level.
“We think this is an absurd proposition that keeps recurring over and over…without an understanding of the decline on Main Street and businesses crawling through the COVID hole,” he said.
The minimum wage for most employees is currently $15 an hour and $14 for businesses with 25 or fewer employees. The legislature passed that wage increase in 2016, leading a ballot measure led by unions that year.
The state Treasury Department announced in May that the baseline would increase to $15 for employers of all sizes beginning January 1, 2023, but the 7% rate of inflation would raise it to $15.50.
A rise to $18 by 2025 is not as dramatic a change as it seems. UC Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich wrote in a policy brief this week that workers could already see a $16 bump in 2024 under current legislation.
And nearly a third of the state’s private sector workers are already covered by some 37 local minimum wage ordinances that are higher than in the state and rise with inflation, Reich wrote.
They estimated that the statewide base wage of $18-an-hour would result in an increase of nearly 5 million workers and an overall increase of less than 0.05% in restaurant and retail prices over three years.