San Jose City Council backs Leno effort to raise state minimum wage

San Jose’s City Council is the first in California to declare support for a state Senate bill raising the minimum wage throughout the state.

The council voted Tuesday after a lengthy debate on SB3, a measure by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that would raise the statewide minimum wage from the current $9 an hour to $13 by July 2017. The proposal would supersede local ordinances, such as San Jose’s, that have wage rates lower than the proposed minimum.

The bill would allow cities to set higher minimum wages — such as San Francisco’s scheduled rise to $14 an hour in 2017.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said raising wages is the right thing to do in Silicon Valley, where the wage gap, particularly between service and tech workers, needs to be closed.

“We live in one valley but in two worlds,” said Liccardo. “And we know many of our residents are not sharing in the growing prosperity of this valley.”

Liccardo said he supports a statewide approach to raising the minimum wage rather than piecemeal efforts that have led a growing number of communities throughout the state to take action on their own.

Among them: San Jose, where voters adopted a higher minimum wage — $10 an hour — in 2012. The rate in the city is currently $10.30.

Oakland’s higher wage, $12.25 an hour and also the product of a ballot measure, took effect earlier this month. Richmond and Berkeley have also raised their basic wage above the state minimum.

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