CREATED Jan. 4, 2012
INDIO - The California Legislature is back in session. The state's on-going fiscal crisis continues to dominate the debate. On Wednesday lawmakers considered a bill that would raise the state's minimum wage by 50 cents an hour. The bill, ab 196, was introduced Wednesday would raise minimum wage to $8.50. It was introduced last year and failed.
While some employees would like the wage increase to come through small businesses I spoke with here in the valley say the increase would kill their bottom line.
Employees at Frankie's Fresh Fish in Indio say every cent helps, even a small raise would help off set the high cost of living.
"50 cents is like small money but it takes a couple hours, hours worked more, so make more. I think it's better," said employee Yasuyuki Ogawa.
Just down the street at La Pinata Restaurant owner Marcos Lopez says a wage increase will force him to raise prices or lay off workers and could put him out of business all together.
"Where is this money coming from?" Lopez said. "We can't go uping our menus, people wno't pay this is not a necessity in restaurants, it's a luxury. Anything that's mamma and pappa, they're going to kill us."
The minimum wage bill still has a long way to go--lawmakers probably won't vote on it until the summer. Assemblyman Manual Perez hasn't reviewed ab 196 just yet but said:
"It will be important to take into consideration the impact it may have on small businesses during this period of economic recovery."
The Employment Policies Institue coming out against the bill saying it could mean the loss of 6,000 jobs statewide.
"Employers especially in a time like this when they can't pass higher labor costs on to customers through higher prices have to figure out how to do more with less and often times that means fewer hours, fewer opportunities for the people who work there," said Research Fellow Michael Saltsman.
Other people in the area say raising minimum wage will simply inflate the price of everything else.
"I honestly don't think it will make a big difference because as they increase wages they will also increase merchandise at the stores, food, toys and everything," said resident Carolina Hernandez.
If it passes the minimun wage increase would go into effect January of 2013.