However, as a great and compassionate City, we should do what is necessary to ensure that this tide lifts all boats. Done properly, an increase to the minimum wage targeted at Sacramento's working poor will strengthen the economy, benefit the entire community, and help create the Sacramento we all want.
Raising the minimum wage and making Sacramento a better place to do business are not mutually exclusive goals. I have been a business owner for over twenty-five years. It is a big part of what shapes my thinking and my approach to problem solving.
My current business, which I have had for nearly ten years, is a consulting company with over fifteen employees. I have also owned a restaurant and catering company with as many as 100 employees. As an owner with a responsibility to both investors and employees to keep the business afloat and successful, my first priority is to ensure solvency, so I fully understand the impact of changes in labor costs.
As of July 1st of this year, California's minimum wage is $9.00 an hour. Working full-time, that equates to an annual pre-tax income of $19,440. According to the federal government, the poverty line for a family of four is $23,850 - nearly 23% of the minimum wage. When we talk about the "working poor", we are talking about full-time employees who are working hard, but still not making enough to support their families. We can do better.
Other cities including Seattle and San Francisco have not waited for the state or federal government, but have chosen to take care of their own. Sacramento should do the same. I am not sure what the right dollar amount for Sacramento's minimum wage is, and there are a multitude of factors that need to be taken into account. My hope is that we can have a thoughtful discussion as a community about an increase in Sacramento's minimum wage.
To that end, I will request the Mayor and Council appoint a working group including representative from business, labor and others, and charge them with developing a set of recommendations for the Council to consider. With time and opportunity for extensive public input, I believe we can bring this matter to the Council next spring for implementation in the coming year.
I believe that Sacramento needs a healthy business environment that creates jobs, however, a healthy community also needs jobs that allow working families to meet their basic needs. We can, and should have both.
In addition to his council duties, Jay works as an independent consultant and policy advisor on education reform and youth policy and strategies.