The proposed spending plan is the initiation of the budget negotiation season that will play out through mid-June and will likely involve legislative demands from both houses for additional spending. Those in favor of pushing through another statewide minimum wage increase may be surprised by Governor Brown's cautionary warnings.
The first question Governor Brown was asked following his presentation zeroed in on the potential of a $15 minimum wage ballot initiative, to which Brown gave this cautious response:
I think raising the minimum wage can be good, but it has to be done very carefully and has to be done over time. It has to take into account what programs can be cut to finance it, or what taxes are going to be generated to pay for it. So it’s not a free good, it does cost funds…Too many goods, too quickly becomes a bad thing…across the board there’s only so much money.
When pressed further on "what his plan is for the minimum wage," Brown's response was:
My plan is, we just increased the minimum wage and we’re spending $250 million to pay for it…You have to remember if you raise it all of a sudden you’ve got to spend $4 billion dollars on an ongoing basis. Then you get a recession and jobs will be cut. Especially in low income areas.
Although it would be foolhardy to make too many assumptions about where Governor Brown's opinions lie on Senator Leno's $13 minimum wage bill (SB 3) or whether he would actively campaign against a $15 ballot measure, his words do show his prudent attitude towards state spending and a continued acknowledgment of the enormous costs not just to the private sector, but also to state government.