Senator Padilla Bill to Develop Living Wage Formula Passes First Committee
SACRAMENTO – Today, the Senate Committee on Labor, Public Employment and Retirement passed Senate Bill 352, a bill authored by Senator Steve Padilla (D-San Diego) to create a formula that calculates a real living wage that a worker must make to afford basic housing in their region.
“Full-time employment should always be enough to afford housing in your community,” said Senator Padilla. “It is vital that California gathers data that helps us understand how wage inequity impacts each region of the state differently. Insufficient wages are smothering our communities - leaving entire sections of the state behind as others enjoy greater prosperity than ever before. The data we collect will inform our efforts as we act to address crippling poverty that hurts the most vulnerable in our state.”
California has one of the nation’s highest minimum wages at $15.50 per hour, but suffers some of the nation’s highest poverty rates due to high living expenses, primarily driven by housing and childcare costs. The current minimum wage was set by the Legislature in 2016. However, higher than expected inflation and rising demand for housing rendered the wage outdated faster than anyone could have anticipated.
SB 352 would direct the California Workforce Development Board, in coordination with the Secretary of Labor and the Director of Housing and Community Development, to develop a calculation by county, regionally, and statewide of what wage workers would need to earn in order to afford basic housing. This unique formula would be the first time the state would officially calculate wage needs to meet basic housing costs.
"Senator Padilla's bill, SB 352, would assess what it actually costs individuals and families to afford appropriate housing and basic expenses,” said Peter Manzo, President & CEO of United Ways of California. “Not only that, the bill would identify significant gaps between what it takes for families and their children to have a decent standard of living and what they actually earn. This should be the yardstick by which we set our priorities, and this bill would provide community and civic leaders, the business sector, and public officials a vital tool to help families not just survive but actually thrive.”
“The United Way believes strongly that you cannot program your way out of poverty,” said TaShon Thomas, Director of Public Policy at United Way Bay Area. “There must be policy changes that align with those programs. SB 352 perfectly merges the need for data to impact future policy decisions with the ultimate goal of creating an equitable and prosperous California.”
SB 352 passed the Senate Committee on Labor, Public Employment and Retirement in a 4-1 vote today. The bill now heads to the Senate Committee on Housing.
Steve Padilla represents the 18th Senate District, which includes the communities of Chula Vista, Coachella, El Centro, Imperial Beach, National City, and San Diego. Prior to his election to the Senate in 2022, Senator Padilla was the first person of color ever elected to city office in Chula Vista, the first Latino Mayor, and the first openly LGBT person to serve or be elected to city office. Website of Senator Steve Padilla: https://sd18.senate.ca.gov/