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Sacramento City Council Approves Plan To Increase Minimum Wage


The Sacramento City Council voted Tuesday night to raise the city minimum wage $12.50 by the year 2020. The current minimum wage is $9. Added to a pending $1 per hour raise in the state of California, workers will see a 39 percent increase in pay within five years.

The proposal is unpopular among workers and business owners who attended the meeting. Business owners say the increase is too costly while workers say it's not enough.

Jim Relles of Relles Florist is one of several business owners speaking against the proposal.

"There's gonna be a 10 percent increase in my overhead at minimum," Relles says. "But it's also going to be a trickle up effect of all of my employees wanting to get a raise."

The Task Force on Income Inequality was created by Mayor Kevin Johnson to look at housing, employment and wages. Its initial proposal included several exemptions, which were dropped. One would have exempted teenagers under age 18 from the $12.50 per hour wage. 

Oscar Velez is 17 years old and works at a fast-food restaurant. With the exemption dropped, he now supports the proposal.  

"We're doing the same job," he says. "If anything I'm doing it better and I'm still getting paid less just because I'm a minor."

Exemptions for disabled workers and an exemption for workers who earn tips and wages were also dropped.  

Almost all of the people who spoke at the council meeting opposes the proposal.

Three women began shouting and chanting after the opposition speakers' half hour of testimony expired. Two were arrested by Sacramento Police officers and charged with disrupting a public meeting.

One of the women is a frequent attendee of Sacramento City Council meetings.

With a change in the index by which rate increases are computed, and with a change to the definition of a small business as one with less than 100 employees, the Region Builders and Sacramento Metro Chamber reversed their positions and spoke in favor of the proposal, with reservations about the effects of the wage increase.

The minimum wage in the State of California will increase from $9 to $10 on January 1, 2016.

City increases will begin the following year, with an extra year allowed for small businesses to comply.

The proposal includes a requirement that the city of Sacramento annually monitor the effects of a minimum wage increase on the economy.

Councilman Jeff Harris is part of the task force.

"We don't have to start with a $.50 increment and we don't have to end at $12.50," he says. "Here's what actually will likely happen. The state is very probably going to take action before any of this would actually take effect in 2017."

The council voted 6-3 in favor of the revised proposal.

Johnson and council members Jay Schenirer, Rick Jennings, Larry Carr, Allen Warren and Jeff Harris voted yes. Angelique Ashby, Steve Hansen and Eric Guerra voted no.

An attempt by Ashby to delay the vote previously failed by the same margin.