The nation’s most populous state, California, will soon also hold one of the country’s highest minimum wages after the state legislature passed a bill Thursday issuing a raise to its working class. The legislation, which passed along party lines, would increase the state’s current minimum wage from $8 an hour to $9 in July 2014, then to $10 by January 2016.
“The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement praising the bill the day before the Senate and Assembly votes. “This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.”
But while Democrats were cheering the legislation’s passage, the Republican minority in California complained it would hurt another set of working Americans. “The impact of this is not on huge employers,” State Senator Jim Nielsen told Reuters. “It is on the smaller employer, the mom and pop operation.”
Senate Republican leader Bob Huff told the Sacramento Bee earlier this week that Republicans had no chance to block the bill: “You’ve got the governor sending more than just smoke signals and everybody seems to be singing Kumbaya.”
This is the first minimum wage increase in California since 2008 when the state raised the rate to $8 an hour. The legislation would force the state to adopt the rate already set in the city of San Jose, where the minimum wage has been $10 an hour since March 2013. San Francisco currently has a minimum wage of $10.55 an hour, the highest rate in the nation.
Since January, Washington state has held the highest minimum wage in the nation at $9.19 an hour—a rate that could also rise above $10 by 2016, because of inflation.
The California bill now makes its way to the governor who has said he would sign it.