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Petition-handlers said to overstate impact of wage hike

In the past several days, petition-distributors in the campaign to overturn the minimum wage have been accused of misleading voters in order to gather signatures. Following are some of their statements, which were captured on audio or videotape:

* One petition-gatherer unknowingly approached San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, telling him that he should sign the petition "so that the state of California can't force San Diego to increase the minimum wage." But the state had no role in the decision. Gloria and his team developed the ordinance, which was voted into law by a 6-3 majority on the City Council.

* "With the state already voting on it, (the California minimum wage) is going to go up to $11.20… and then on-top of it, (San Diego) wants to get it up to $15, which is what Seattle has done." In contrast, the state's minimum wage will peak at $10 in 2016, with San Diego's slated to peak at $11.50 in 2017. For large businesses, Seattle's minimum will hit $15 in 2017, but small businesses won't reach that level until 2021.

* "They want to double the minimum wage by 50 percent." Doubling the current minimum would result in an hourly rate of $18 instead of $11.50. Raising it 50 percent would be $13.50. Neither is currently contemplated.

* "After passing the minimum wage in Seattle, what they've noticed is that the actual costs of production have gone up so they have to send other areas of the country where they get the same things manufactured for cheaper." There's been no effect from Seattle's vote to raise the minimum wage, which doesn't take effect until next April. In the state of Washington, which currently has the nation's highest statewide minimum wage at $9.32 per hour, manufacturing jobs have held steady for more than a decade. Hotel and restaurant jobs, which account for the bulk of minimum wage jobs, have grown at a relatively strong pace of nearly 1.5 percent per year since the wage hikes began in 1999.

* The Seattle wage hike "is faltering local businesses because people aren't used to the inflation that's going to happen as a result. Ground beef (in San Diego currently) is probably like $7 for two pounds. But after the type of drastic increase they're proposing that same ground beef is going to cost you, like, $15." During the 15 years since Washington state began raising the minimum wage in Seattle, the inflation rate has averaged 2.5 percent per year, identical to the U.S. average. The price of ground beef now averages $3.84 in Seattle, compared to $3.99 in San Diego. Economists say that in general, minimum wage hikes have had a negligible impact on inflation.

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San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

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Jerry Sanders

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Ruben Barrales

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