California Raising Minimum Wage to $8

California lawmakers agree to raise the minimum wage by almost 20 percent over the next 18 months. The increase will lift the state's minimum wage from $6.75 an hour to $8 an hour. It will be implemented in two steps, first a 75-cent increase at the beginning of 2007, and then another 50-cent increase on January 1, 2008.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Here in California, lawmakers have agreed to raise the minimum wage by about 20 percent over the next year and a half. The increase will lift the state's minimum wage from $6.75 an hour to $8.00 an hour. It will be implemented in two steps: first a $0.75 increase at the beginning of 2007, and then another $0.50 increase on January 1st, 2008.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hailed the pay raise as a boost for low-wage workers and state businesses, saying, quote, California is coming back stronger than ever.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

A labor leader said the governor had vetoed similar bills in the past, and said the reason for this agreement is because it's an election year.

And, according to the California Federation of Labor, the jump to $7.50 on New Years Day 2007 will make California's minimum wage the nation's fourth highest, behind Washington State, Oregon, and Connecticut. After a fierce debate in Congress this summer, the federal minimum wage remains at $5.15 an hour.

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