Gov. Jerry Brown supports increase of California's minimum wage

Wage would increase from $8 to $10 in 2014

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders reached an agreement Wednesday that could mean an increase in California's minimum wage starting next year.

Coltyn Carpenter works at a café. He cleans tables, serves customers, cooks ... you name it and he does it.

However, at $8 an hour -- the state's current minimum wage -- it's tough to make ends meet.

"To pay rent and things like that is definitely a struggle sometimes. The paycheck isn't always consistent as well; depends upon business and stuff like that," said Carpenter.

Carpenter and millions of other minimum wage workers in the state will likely get a raise soon.

Brown and Democratic leaders reached a deal that backs a pay hike to $9 an hour next summer and $10 an hour in 2016.

The effort spearheaded by state Assemblyman Luis Alejo removes an annual cost of living adjustment he originally sought, but the Salinas Democrat is happy with the compromise.

"It at least gives the dignity and respect to workers that when they work full time and make an honest living, they could provide for their families and pay their bills," said Alejo.

Brown's office said 25 percent of California children -- or 2.4 million -- live in a household where at least one parent earns minimum wage.

Brown believes the raise is long overdue for struggling families.

Opponents of the hike wonder if this is really the right time to raise the minimum wage, as there are two big costs that'll hit businesses over the coming year.

Many companies still don't know how much the federal Affordable Care Act will cost them and California may have to boost employer contributions to the state's unemployment insurance fund, which is $10 billion in the hole.

State Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) said, "You may create a scenario where employees are going to lose their jobs. So I'm committed to looking at the minimum wage. I just would like to know those other costs so that we don't price people out of the labor force right now."

With a Democratic supermajority in the state Legislature, though, the proposal is expected to be approved.

"I think that would be awesome for someone like me who needs it," said Carpenter.

California's last minimum wage hike was 2008.

Workers in San Francisco, San Jose and the hotel industry in Long Beach are already paid $10 or more per hour.

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