The following comes from a March 31 news release from Senator Mark Leno: 

SACRAMENTO – The California Legislature became the first in the nation to approve a $15 minimum wage with the passage of Senate Bill 3 today. The historic legislation, which will help lift California’s low-wage earners out of poverty, is jointly authored by Senators Mark Leno, Kevin de León and Connie M. Leyva. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature and is now headed to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown, who brought lawmakers and stakeholders together to move the bill forward.

SB 3 raises the state’s minimum wage to $10.50 per hour in January 2017 and $11 in January 2018. The state’s floor wage would then increase an additional $1 per hour each year until reaching $15 in 2022. The bill allows the Governor to pause an increase during the climb to $15 an hour if the state experiences an economic downturn or budget crisis.

“California’s minimum wage must also be a living wage,” said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León. “Anyone who thinks $15 an hour is too much should try living on it.”

California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly a quarter of the state’s 38 million residents live in poverty. An employee working full time earning $10 an hour brings home just over $20,000 annually before taxes, which is just 86 percent of the federal poverty line for a family of four. As a result, many cities have taken the matter into their own hands, raising local minimum wages either by government action or at the ballot box.

SB 3 is co-sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the SEIU California State Council. The bill is also supported by a long list of organizations and government leaders, including the Women’s Foundation of California, California Teachers Association, Children’s Defense Fund of California, California Association of Food Banks and California Catholic Conference of Bishops.

Governor Brown has 12 days to take action on the legislation.