California’s elite politicos have long resented our state’s system of propositions and ballot measures, which give the voters some measure of control on how Sacramento runs.

Famous tax-payer victories include Proposition 13 (capping property taxes). Furthermore, Californians have organized statewide to defeat other issues (e.g., Proposition 1A, a temporary tax increase that California Tea Party Groups fought successfully in 2009).

After a ballot measure was recently approved for a proposed, gradually-implemented $15/hour minimum wage law, our state’s politicians played a round of “Let’s Make a Deal” to bypass the will of the voters.

Lawmakers and labor unions have struck a tentative deal to raise the statewide minimum wage to $10.50 an hour next year and then gradually to $15, averting a costly political campaign this fall and possibly putting California at the forefront of a national movement.

The deal was confirmed Saturday afternoon by sources close to the negotiations who would speak only on condition of anonymity until Gov. Jerry Brown makes a formal announcement as early as Monday.

The minimum wage compromise ends a long debate between the Democratic governor and some of the state’s most powerful labor unions. For Brown, it’s political pragmatism; numerous statewide polls have suggested voters would approve a minimum wage proposal — perhaps even a more sweeping version — if given the chance.

Watch the report:

Perhaps voters would have passed the measure, and perhaps not. The city of Tacoma, Washington defeated the $15/hour minimum wage proposal last November.


Tacoma has had a front-row seat on the questionable success of the $15/hour rules enforced by Seattle.

The [American Enterprise Institute] study, worked up from Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly surveys, shows that, between April and December last year, Seattle saw the biggest employment drop in any nine-month period since 2009 — a full year into the Great Recession.

The city unemployment rate rose a full percentage point.

Before the minimum-wage hikes begin, Seattle employment tracked the rest of the nation — slowly rising from the 2008-09 bottom. But it started to plunge last spring, as the new law began to kick in.

Furthermore, Seattle’s loss of 10,000 jobs in just the three months of September, October and November was a record for any three-month period dating back to 1990.

Meanwhile, employment outside the city limits — which had long tracked the rate in Seattle proper — was soaring by 57,000 and set a new record high that November.

Tacoma voters probably noticed the trend to automate work in response to forced wage hikes.

“With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” said [Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s CEO Andy] Puzder. “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”

He’s right. That’s why whenever the minimum wage rises above the market-set prevailing wage, jobs are destroyed. Who would pay someone $15 an hour to do a job that’s worth less than that? No one.

If the ballot measure had gone forward as planned, the California Tea Party groups would have organized against the proposal.

“We would have made sure Californians would have been fully informed about the consequences of passage,” said Dawn Wildman, a lead organizer. “One thing Sacramento fails to note is that the wage needs in Merced are not the same as in San Francisco…what a person needs to earn to live decently in Fresno is different than in Los Angeles. Now, areas of the state that are already suffering economically are going to be even harder hit. We don’t get a chance to make the case or make a different deal that might serve citizens better.”

The California deal has one other element that must be noted because it reveals the true power of our state’s public employee unions. The proposal includes a gradual addition of up to three new paid sick days for government workers who provide in-home care to the disabled. The tentative wage agreement is Governor Jerry Brown’s attempt at some fiscal restraint.

In January, Brown warned of a $4-billion a year increase in state budget expenses if public-sector care workers — who are paid the minimum wage — were to receive $15 an hour. The gradual ramping up of wages and benefits in the new agreement is more aligned with Brown’s larger budget philosophy.

Given the fact that California is going to be a battlefield during the presidential primary season, the matter of a $15/hour national minimum wage rule is likely to be an election issue.

Until then, as Sacramento bypasses the voters in favor of the unions, it is the average citizen that is “The Biggest Loser”.


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