Raising the Minimum Wage for Working Men and Women in California and the Rest of America

Ballot Measure Raising Minimum Wage to $12 an Hour Is Proposed

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SACRAMENTO — California’s minimum wage is pegged to go up $1 an hour to $9 on July 1 and by another buck in 2016.

But that isn’t high enough or fast enough for Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley software entrepreneur who has dabbled in state politics over the years.

The 52-year-old multimillionaire hopes to put a measure on the November ballot raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour March 1, 2015, and to $12 a year later.

Unz said he’s confident he will get the needed signatures of 504,760 registered voters by the June deadline.

Raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour is a sure-fire way to fight poverty, which is widespread in California because of the high cost of living, Unz said.

Unz’s proposed wage hikes “automatically would cut social-welfare spending … by tens of billions of dollars because the workers are not so poor,” he said.

That’s an attractive proposal for many other fiscal conservatives, said Unz, who described himself as a libertarian-leaning conservative.

What’s more, he said, a $12-an-hour minimum wage would have little noticeable effect on the cost of goods, boosting inflation by less than 1%.

But some groups representing businesses that employ large numbers of minimum wage workers aren’t buying Unz’s contention.

Fast-food and other restaurant owners are wondering whether they can afford the pay hike approved last year by the state Legislature, the biggest in state history, said Jot Condie, president of the California Restaurant Assn. “There will be a loss of jobs.”

• Category: California, Campaign • Tags: Marc Lifsher