Commentary: Up the Pay, Governor!

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, September 30, 2005

If you watch television you know that Governor Schwarzenegger is taking a beating from labor unions. They say he is a captive of rich corporate interests and doesn't care about working people.

Governor, you can fight that perception. Sign AB 48, the bill sitting on your desk that would raise the state's minimum wage and index it to inflation.

California has the lowest minimum wage of any state on the West Coast, $6.75 an hour. That's too low. Oregon's minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Washington's is $7.35. Both are indexed to inflation. For a family with two kids, both parents would have to earn more than $17 an hour to meet basic needs in California. We're talking food, rent, health care and transportation here. No frills, no vacations, no retirement, no socking away money in the kid's college fund.

A bare bones existence for a family of four costs two and half times what minimum wage provides. It's no wonder that half a million California families live in poverty - 18% of the state’s children. Sign the minimum wage bill, Governor. Give the working poor reason to believe you're not a captive of big business, that you really do care about them.


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.