"What we get today," Nunez said, "we may be stuck with for four or five years." See http://www.sfgate.com/...
For a long time, both Democrats and Republicans have deadlocked over the mininimum wage issue in California. Schwarzenegger's position of $7.75 without a COLA has not led the Democrats to drop their support for a voter referendum of $7.75 with a COLA. But the Democrats have not been able to override the gubernatorial veto of $7.75 with a COLA.
In numerous articles about the California minimum wage deadlock, the positions of both parties has been stated, but neither party has appeared to offer for public consumption any possible alternative to their stated position.
Nunez is taking a step that I believe is extremely appropriate. If the Republicans really feel passionately about not having cost of living increases for the minimum wage, they ought to be able to support a much higher minimum wage.
Democratic positions in Congress and all 50 states have, in effect, been offers of compromise in which the longtime traditional goal of having a minimum wage that could support a family of three with a single wage earner live above the poverty line has been submerged due to concerns about issue winnability.
I am a Pennsylvania state legislator with 33 years of experience, and two successful minimum wage battles (as well as various unsuccessful minimum wage battles) under my belt. I believe that getting agreement on something that benefits people is far better than having a purist position which is not implemented due to partisan disagreement.
A bill, after all, is merely a piece of paper. But a law is something that creates a legally enforceable right for many people.
But, as readers of my prior posts here know, I think the minimum wage increases that a lot of good and decent people around the country have won are far too low. No state has yet passed a minimum wage increase that takes a family of three with a full-time year around minimum wage worker out of poverty.
Perhaps California could be the first. Nunez should strongly be advocating for a minimum wage that takes people out of poverty as soon as possible.
$8.50 in 2007 would produce an annual income of $17,680 with a projected poverty level (assuming 4% inflation) of $17,264. $9.00 in 2008 would produce an annual income of $18,720 and (again assuming 4% inflation) a poverty level of $17,952.
I believe COLAs are a good idea. But first, we have to raise the minimum wage to a level where minimum wage workers with two dependents are not in poverty. A COLA tied to a poverty level minimum wage will just keep the minimum wage workers in poverty.
What California does to the minimum wage will have a huge national impact: California is, of course, our largest state with well over 10% of our nation's population.
If any Californians reading this agree with this diary (and Speaker Nunez's comments), please contact your state legislators and the Speaker's office. The state of the minimum wage is a major national issue, but, as Tip O'Neill liked to say, all politics is local.