A bill to raise California's hourly minimum wage to $9.25 over the next three years won approval Thursday in the state Assembly.
Assembly Bill 10 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, passed 45-25 mostly along party lines. It would be the first bump in the state's minimum wage since 2008, when it was raised by 50 cents to $8.
"The last time the minimum wage was increased, gas was $3.25 a gallon in California," Alejo said. "I don't know about you, but I haven't seen gas prices at that level in a long time."
Under AB 10, the hourly minimum wage would increase to $8.25 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015 and $9.25 in 2016. Beginning in 2017, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually according to the rate of inflation. There would be no changes in years in which inflation was negative.
The California Chamber of Commerce listed Alejo's bill on its annual list of "job killers," saying it unfairly raises employers' costs of doing business in the state.
Assemblyman Donald Wagner, R-Irvine, said "as good and compassionate as it sounds," AB 10 hurts the very workers it intends to help. Wagner said the bill drives up labor costs to the detriment of business owners. That combination can hurt job creation in the state, he said.
"Applying a mandate like this bill imposes is the wrong way to go," Wagner said.
Alejo disagreed that his bill would slow the economic recovery.
"When minimum wage workers have more money, they spend it," he said.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Call Melody Gutierrez, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5521. Follow her on Twitter @melodygutierrez.