San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, saying that his city “must not be divided between the very wealthy and the very poor,” used his State of the City speech Wednesday to push for the city to raise its minimum wage. And though Gloria did not specify where he thought the new minimum wage should be set, he cited an annual salary figure of $30,000 as the least needed by an individual to “live self-sufficiently,” NBC San Diego reported.
A $30,000 annual salary would mean workers earn approximately $14.50 per hour, wrote Scott Lewis of the independent Voice of San Diego news organization.
California recently passed legislation that will raise the minimum pay for workers in the state, currently at $8 per hour, to $10 over the next three years. Gloria dismissed that increase as “not enough” to let workers meet basic needs in San Diego.
“No one who works full-time should live in poverty,” he said in his speech. “According to the Center on Policy Initiatives, 28 percent of full-time, year-round employees earned less than the $30,000, which is what is needed to live self-sufficiently in San Diego. A full-time minimum-wage job in San Diego pays about half that amount.”
Though Gloria made a point of explaining how raising the minimum wage would be “good for business,” noting that, “lower-income workers are more likely to spend their additional wages on basics like food, housing and transportation,” rather predictably, the city’s business establishment rebelled against Gloria’s proposal almost as soon as he got it out of his mouth.
Former San Diego Mayor and current San Diego Chamber of Commerce president Jerry Sanders warned that Gloria’s proposal would “stunt job growth,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
Despite the business opposition to Gloria’s San Diego proposal, the statewide push to continue increasing California’s minimum wage is being led by a conservative Silicon Valley multimillionaire.
Ron Unz wants California to boost its minimum wage to $12 per hour.
“There are so many very low-wage workers, and we pay for huge social welfare programs for them,” Unz told The New York Times in November. “This would save something on the order of tens of billions of dollars. Doesn’t it make more sense for employers to pay their workers than the government?”
Gloria became interim mayor of San Diego August 30 when then-mayor Bob Filner quit amid charges of sexual harassment.
Though his minimum wage proposal was only one element of the U-T San Diego newspaper called an “ambitious agenda” laid out in his speech, Gloria will hold his current job only until the results of a February 11 election to replace Filner are certified. Gloria is not a candidate in that race.
One of the country’s few openly gay mayors of a major city, Gloria will return to his previous role as city council president when he leaves the interim mayor’s job, a position from which he will continue to function as one of the most influential political figures in San Diego.