SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California's minimum wage would rise to $10 an hour within three years under a bill that is all but certain to head to Gov. Jerry Brown, giving the state one of the highest statewide rates in the nation.
Washington state currently has the top minimum wage, at $9.19 an hour, an amount that is pegged to rise with inflation. Some cities, including San Francisco, have set higher minimum wages.
The state Senate approved AB10 on Thursday, sending it back to the Assembly for a final vote later in the day that will be a mere formality before it goes to the governor. Brown has said he supports it.
If signed into law, the bill would gradually raise California's minimum wage from the current $8 an hour to $10 by 2016. The last increase in California's minimum wage was six years ago.
Governor Brown this week made statements in support of the higher wage. "The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs," he said. "This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy."
Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) proposed the measure. The legislative leaders in both houses also support the bill.
"For millions of California's hard working minimum wage employees, a few extra dollars a week can make a huge difference to help them provide for their families," said Democratic Senate President Darrell Steinberg.
Democratic Assembly Speaker John Perez also signaled support for the increase. "This is money that will be spent at grocery stores, on school supplies and invested in education, and that ultimately strengthens the recovery and ensures California's job market continues growing faster than the rest of the nation," he said.
The action in Sacramento comes less than two weeks after nationwide protests from fast food workers demanding the federal minimum wage be hiked to $15 an hour.