- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Lawmakers declined Thursday to take up a bill that would raise California’s minimum wage and tie future increases to inflation, likely stalling the effort for this year.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee did not take up SB3 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, the last day to send bills out of the finance committee and back to the legislative floor. Its chairman, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, said lawmakers will instead review a range of alternatives, including setting regional minimum wages.

Leno’s bill seeks to raise the minimum wage to $11 in 2016 and $13 in 2017 then tie it to inflation starting in 2019. The lawmaker said he offered to amend his bill to delay implementation of the wage hike for another year, but the committee declined to hear it.

“Any further study or delay of such an increase undermines working Californians who deserve to be paid a living wage. It should not be legal to pay sub-poverty wages in our state, and we must act soon to lift our communities out of poverty and to boost our economy,” Leno said in a written statement. “Our intent is to pass our amended version of the bill to the governor’s desk in January.”

Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed legislation two years ago that set California’s minimum wage at $9 an hour this year and increases it to $10 per hour in 2016.

The California Chamber of Commerce has lobbied against the increase and labeled Leno’s bill a “job killer,” saying it would lead companies to slow hiring.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said in a statement that California’s minimum wage should be even higher, but she supported the committee’s move not to take up the bill Thursday.

“We need a path to $15 and beyond,” she said.

Atkins said she has asked the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office to help develop options for increasing the minimum wage.

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