July 20, 2024

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California Democrats agree to delay minimum wage hike for health care workers

2 min read

Democrats in California have agreed to delay a minimum wage increase for about 426,000 health care workers to help balance the state’s budget.

The agreement between Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders is part of a larger plan to close an estimated $46.8 billion shortfall — the second year in a row the nation’s most populous state has had a multibillion-dollar deficit.

Health care workers were supposed to get a raise July 1, part of a plan to gradually increase their pay to $25 per hour over the next decade. Now, if approved by the Legislature next week, they could get that raise Oct. 15 — but only if California’s revenues between July and September are at least 3% higher than what officials have estimated.

If that doesn’t happen, the raise won’t start until Jan. 1 at the latest.

The delay preserves a hard-fought victory for one of the state’s largest labor unions — and one of Democrats’ largest campaign donors. Dave Regan, president of Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, said workers are disappointed they won’t get raises this summer.

“But we also recognize and appreciate that legislative leaders and the Governor listened to us as we mobilized and spoke out this year to insist that, despite a historic budget deficit, California’s patient care and healthcare workforce crisis must be addressed,” he said in a statement.

The minimum wage for most people in California is $16 per hour, which is already among the highest in the nation. The minimum wage for most fast food workers in the state is $20 per hour, an increase that began in April and has had ripple effects statewide.

But increasing wages for health care workers is trickier because of the budget impact budget. California employs some health care workers, and it also pays for medical benefits through the state’s Medicaid program.

The Newsom administration had previously said the minimum wage increase would cost…

Adam Beam, The Associated Press

2024-06-22 19:24:15

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