San Diego Mayor Says He’ll Veto $11.50 Minimum Wage

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, the only Republican to lead one of the 10 most-populous U.S. cities, said he’ll veto a bill seeking to raise the local minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017.

The City Council voted 6-3 yesterday to boost the wage to $9.75 at the beginning of next year, $10.50 a year later and $11.50 in 2017. California’s minimum wage reached $9 an hour July 1 and will increase to $10 in 2016 under a law signed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown last September.

San Diego’s increase would take effect even if Faulconer vetoes it if the council musters a second 6-3 vote to override his action.

“This ordinance puts our job growth in jeopardy and will lead to higher prices and layoffs for San Diego families,” Faulconer said in a statement. “I will veto this ordinance because we should be looking for ways to create more jobs, not putting up roadblocks to opportunities.”

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia require employers to pay more than the $7.25 federal minimum as of June 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed a law to raise that city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2017, making it the highest rate among large U.S. cities. San Francisco voters in November will decide whether to set their city’s lowest hourly wage at $15 by July 2018 under a measure backed by Mayor Ed Lee.

Sick Leave

San Diego, whose population of 1.3 million makes it the eighth-largest U.S. city and second-largest on the West Coast after Los Angeles, shouldn’t be left behind, said City Council President Todd Gloria, a Democrat. In addition to raising the minimum wage, the local ordinance would require employers to provide as many as five days a year of earned sick leave.

“The San Diego City Council supports strengthening our local economy and our local workforce, and we demonstrated that with our action today,” Gloria said yesterday in a statement. “Should the mayor choose to veto our action, I will ask my council colleagues to override it so 279,000 San Diegans will be able to earn sick leave and at least 172,000 San Diegans will get a raise on Jan. 1.”

Tony Cherin, a finance professor emeritus at San Diego State University, said the higher wage floor will compel some local businesses such as restaurants to reduce business hours, raise prices or fire workers.

“They’re going to decide either to walk away with a smaller profit margin or they’re going to do something to maintain that profit margin,” he said by telephone. “They could lay people off, for one, and try to do their business with fewer people.”

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