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Ballot Measure Would Raise San Diego Minimum Wage To $13

City Council President Todd Gloria proposed a ballot initiative Wednesday that, if approved by voters, would increase San Diego's minimum wage to $13.09 per hour over the next three years.

Gloria first proposed the idea in January, at the time calling for a "meaningful'' hike without specifying how much until a news conference Wednesday at City Hall.

The proposal, which needs City Council approval to be put on a ballot, would also give employees five paid sick days per year.

Gloria said he spent the past three months talking to stakeholders on all sides of the issue and looking at studies on the subject. He said details of the proposal could change, pending City Council discussions.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and former Mayor Jerry Sanders, now the CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, both issued statements opposing the ballot measure.

Gloria said nearly everyone acknowledges the current minimum wage, set by the state at $8 per hour, is too low.

"The San Diego proposal would have a major, positive economic impact for workers and their families and on the San Diego economy,'' Gloria said.

"To those who fear losing their businesses, please remember that these additional wages will be spent by workers on necessities like food and services — it will go right back into San Diego's economy.''

The state plans to increase the minimum wage to $9 an hour in July and to $10 an hour in two years.

If voters pass the initiative in November, the minimum wage in San Diego will go to $11.09 in July 2015, to $12.09 in July 2016 and to $13.09 in July 2017, Gloria said.

San Diegans can weigh in on the proposal at the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee meeting Wednesday, April 30. The item is expected to be heard starting at 10:30 a.m.

The Center on Policy Initiatives, a San Diego nonprofit that advocates for poor and moderate-income families, recently estimated that a single person living on a stripped-down budget needs to make a $13.09 hourly wage to live in San Diego.

Around 300,000 households in the region have incomes too low to meet basic expenses, according to the study.

Peter Brownell, research director for CPI, said about 200,000 employees would get a "significant raise'' if the minimum wage is increased, resulting in $2,800 in additional annual income. About 260,000 workers in San Diego have no paid sick leave, he said.

Faulconer and Sanders said that Gloria's proposal would put San Diego at a competitive disadvantage and hurt businesses.

"I believe the better way to support San Diego small businesses and protect jobs is to follow the minimum wage increases set at the state and federal levels, which ensures our city remains on a level playing field with surrounding cities that compete with San Diego for jobs,'' Faulconer said in a statement.

"I am concerned about any proposal that puts our city at a competitive disadvantage against other cities, which can hurt job growth and San Diego working families," he said.

In his statement, Sanders said, "Given the state of California's recently adopted 25 percent increase in the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour by 2016, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce supports federal efforts to equalize the national minimum wage in order to promote an equitable and competitive business environment, as well as help our nation's workforce and create jobs.

"The proposal to create a separate minimum wage in the City of San Diego and significantly increase the rate well in excess of what has been adopted by the state of California not only puts San Diego at a competitive and economic disadvantage, it would also hurt the very workforce the proponents are purporting to help."

Faulconer and Councilman Mark Kersey previously called for an independent study on the potential impact of a minimum wage increase.

Lightner and Councilwomen Myrtle Cole and Marti Emerald have expressed support for Gloria's proposal. A spokesman for Councilman David Alvarez said his boss supports the concept.

The San Diego Organizing Project plans a rally Wednesday night in Barrio Logan aimed at persuading Alvarez to back the effort to set higher local minimum wage.

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