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California Enacts Highest Statewide Minimum Wage

Damian Dovarganes / AP

California Gov. Jerry Brown, left at podium, addresses members of the media, before signing a bill creating highest statewide minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2022 at the Ronald Reagan building in Los Angeles on Monday, April 4, 2016.

Damian Dovarganes / AP

Update at 5:40pm: California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a statewide $15 per hour minimum wage into law. Although the law has drawn fierce opposition from business groups, there appears to be no talk of a push to overturn the law using California’s referendum process.

Brown credited a union-backed November ballot measure for driving the new law, which will increase the current $10 an hour minimum wage each year starting in January until it reaches $15 in 2022. Small businesses will get an extra year to comply.

“Economically, minimum wages may not make sense, Brown said at the bill signing ceremony in Los Angeles Monday. But morally and socially and politically, they make every sense – because it binds the community together and makes sure that parents can take care of their kids in a much more satisfactory way. That’s the living family wage!”

Business groups were blindsided by last week’s deal between Brown and labor unions – and many are upset with a governor they’ve relied on to moderate a liberal-leaning Legislature. But it appears minimum wage opponents likely won’t seek to overturn the law through California’s referendum process.

“They may determine that the certainty that’s set under this, they’ll just have to live with, says Rob Lapsley with the California Business Roundtable – and, he adds, live with the repercussions” such as smaller workforces and more automation.

Lapsley says Brown’s role as a backstop for business becomes even more crucial.

“Now that this measure has been signed – which, again, is a major, major cost increase, one of the largest – how can we work on policies under his leadership that will help to grow businesses and grow middle-class jobs?”

Or at the very least, veto other bills that would increase labor costs.

Original story (AP) -- California has enacted the nation's highest statewide minimum wage of $15 an hour to take effect by 2022.

Gov. Jerry Brown's signing of the bill Monday in Los Angeles, and a similar New York effort, mark the most ambitious moves yet to close the national divide between rich and poor.

Business groups fear the increase will cost thousands of jobs.

Democratic lawmakers approved the measure last week with no Republican support.

Republicans and business groups warn that the move could cost thousands of jobs, while a legislative analysis puts the ultimate cost to taxpayers at $3.6 billion a year in higher pay for government employees.

The Democratic governor negotiated the deal to head off competing labor-backed ballot initiatives.

Brown says the most populous state's fast-growing economy can absorb the raises.