Minimum wage ballot campaign begins

SAN DIEGO - A campaign spearheaded by local businesses to put the minimum wage ordinance before voters kicked off Thursday.

The San Diego Small Business Coalition announced the referendum campaign at a news conference Thursday morning in Sorrento Valley.

The City Council passed the ordinance in July. It raises the minimum wage to $9.75 on Jan. 1, 2015, $10.50 in January 2016 and $11.50 in January 2017. Beginning in January 2019, the pay scale would be indexed to inflation. It also mandates that employers offer five paid sick days to workers each year.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the ordinance earlier this month. However, on Monday, the City Council overrode the veto.

The coalition now has 30 days to collect the 34,000 petition signatures needed to put it on the ballot.

If the referendum qualifies, the City Council could repeal its approval of the ordinance or schedule a public vote, either in the next scheduled citywide election in June 2016 -- it's too late to qualify for this November's ballot -- or in a special election. The ordinance would not be in effect until after the vote.

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