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Builders group opposes Sacramento minimum-pay hike

By Ryan Lillis

rlillis@sacbee.com

June 17, 2015 11:26 AM

A pro-builder group is voicing its opposition to two minimum-wage proposals being discussed in Sacramento.

Region Builders released a statement Wednesday saying it opposes either a $13.50-per-hour or $15-per-hour minimum wage. Sacramento’s minimum wage is at the state rate of $9 an hour.

Mayor Kevin Johnson said in November that he wanted to convene a task force to study increasing the minimum wage. While that task force still has not been formed, the mayor said in a recent op-ed in The Sacramento Bee that an increase in his office’s budget would give him the capacity to launch that group. That larger budget was approved by the City Council last week.

A coalition led by organized labor groups is advocating for a minimum-wage increase in the city. While a measure on the November 2016 ballot seeking an increase is possible, the group is focusing its attention for now on working with Johnson and the City Council to pass an ordinance that doesn’t require voter approval, said Fabrizio Sasso, executive director of the Sacramento Central Labor Council. The group is also waiting to see how efforts at the Capitol to raise the statewide minimum-pay rate play out.

Sasso said recent polling conducted by the labor coalition showed support for a $13.50 minimum wage.

Opposition to the minimum-wage increase from Region Builders creates an interesting situation for Johnson, a pro-business and pro-development mayor. The group’s executive director – Joshua Wood – was a lead consultant on Johnson’s failed strong-mayor ballot measure drive in November. The mayor also recently hired Scott Whyte as a legislative affairs adviser; Whyte was political director for Region Builders before working for the North State Building Industry Association.

Wood said in a statement that a minimum-wage increase to $13.50 only in Sacramento could hurt the city’s competitive standing in the region.

“Having a $13.50 minimum pay law in the city of Sacramento will only cost us jobs and make it harder for people, especially young people, to find work as jobs will leave the city for other parts of the region or valley,” he said.

Sasso said there is no evidence showing municipalities that increase minimum wages suffer economic consequences.

“I can say that increasing the minimum wage will turn the sky green and that’s just as valid an argument (as Wood’s statement),” Sasso said.