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California Lawmakers Approve Plan to Increase Minimum Wage to $15 Statewide

The increase would gradually take effect over six years

A march in Oakland in support of the increase
A march in Oakland in support of the increase
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California just became one of the highest paying states in the country, after lawmakers approved a bill that will increase the minimum wage to $15 by the year 2022. That means low-income workers statewide will join cities like San Francisco, Emeryville, Berkeley and Los Angeles, that have already put measures in place to increase the minimum wage.

The deal was unveiled by Governor Jerry Brown on Monday (after it was leaked over the weekend), and will raise California's current $10 minimum wage by 50 cents in January 2017, and another 50 cents in the following year. Wages would increase by $1 each year until 2022, landing at $15. Caveats for small businesses (25 or fewer employees) would allow a delay in implementation until 2023. The bill was passed by the assembly this morning 48-26, then sent to the Senate where it was passed 26-12. Now, it will be signed into law by Gov. Brown on Monday morning

Many businesses owners, including restaurants, have voiced opposition to the increases, calling it a "job killer" that would leave to mechanization of the work force with fewer jobs and decreased revenue. Others praised the decision, which they say will raise millions of workers in California out of poverty, particularly in the restaurant industry. Recent studies show that 40 percent of U.S. restaurant workers live in poverty; 52 percent of fast food employees are dependent on government assistance.