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Faulconer threatens to veto minimum wage

Despite facing a veto-proof majority, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Monday said he would veto the City Council's proposed ordinance to raise the minimum wage and give local workers the right to earn paid sick leave.

In a tersely worded statement, Faulconer said the ordinance "puts our job growth in jeopardy and will lead to higher prices and layoffs for San Diego families." He said the city "should be looking for ways to create more jobs, not putting up roadblocks to opportunities."

Although the City Charter gives Faulconer 10 days to veto a measure once it reaches his desk, his statement came less than two hours after the City Council passed the measure by 6-3 after its mandatory second reading.

The measure passed with exactly the same margin after its first reading July 14.

A six-vote majority, comprising two-thirds of the Council, is enough to withstand a mayoral veto. And even though the Council has 30 days to decide whether to override a veto, Council President Todd Gloria —chief architect of the measure — made his intentions clear.

“Should the mayor choose to veto our action, I will ask my council colleagues to override it," Gloria said.

In the meantime, however, local businesses continue to discuss the possibility of floating a ballot referendum to overturn the measure — a tactic that local shipyards successfully used last month to overturn the Council's rezoning of Barrio Logan and that real estate developers used earlier in the year to temporarily block a hike in the "linkage fee" used to support affordable housing construction.

"We've had some conversations about 'referending' this, but a final decision hasn't been reached. We're still early in the process of organizing and determining how to address this," said Jason Cabel Roe, managing director of Revolvis Consulting Inc., a political firm that has done campaign work for several Republican politicians and causes, most recently Faulconer's mayoral campaign, Chris Cate's City Council race and an independent committee supporting Councilmember Lorie Zapf.

Under the City Council's measure, the minimum wage in San Diego — which will increase with the rest of the state from $8 to $9 on July 1 — would rise to $9.75 New Year's Day, $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2016, and $11.50 on Jan. 1, 2017. Starting Jan. 1, 2019, the wage would rise with the inflation rate.

The law also would guarantee workers the ability to earn up to five days of paid sick leave, depending on how long they have worked for their employer.

Supporters of the wage hike say it should help spur the local economy by putting more money into the hands of low-income workers, who are most likely to spend it locally.

At a press conference that Roe coordinated before the City Council meeting, owners of several local businesses said they feared the wage hike would hurt their viability, including Seabreeze Books and Charts, Ocean Park Inn, Glo Beauty Bar and the Home for Guiding Hands, a charity in El Cajon that helps support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“This ordinance to increase the minimum wage would have dire consequences for our services and programs," said Mark Klaus, CEO of the Home for Guiding Hands, who last year made $201,120 from the $16 million charity and related organizations.

Aimee Faucett, vice president and chief operating officer of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said that while the Chamber and its members were "sympathetic to those who are struggling to make ends meet," a boost in the minimum wage would create more unemployment by forcing employers to lay off workers.

"Ultimately, this increase will hurt those that its proponents are aiming to help,” Faucett said.

Other cities that have raised their minimum wages — such as Seattle, San Francisco and San Jose — have not seen any spike in unemployment. In fact, Washington state, which has the highest minimum wage in the country, has also seen the fastest growth among small businesses.

A study released last week suggested that states with higher minimum wages have had better economic growth than those without.

Roe said that the state growth rates were irrelevant because they do not face the same competitive pressures as the city of San Diego, surrounded by 17 cities in the county that have not raised their wages.

He added that it is too early to tell how Seattle and San Jose will fare, although San Francisco has raised its minimum wages for the past decade while maintaining relatively steady job growth, compared to nearby communities.



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San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

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San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive(s):

Jerry Sanders

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Ruben Barrales

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