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Calif. Dems Trying To Stiff Healthcare Workers As Budget Deficit Explodes

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a Clean California event in San Francisco, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

California Democrats are racing to reverse a new $25-an-hour healthcare worker minimum wage law going into effect at the end of the week after the governor’s office estimates it would cost the state $4 billion annually.

The news of the costs isn’t new. In fact, it was projected by legislative analysis and ignored by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), who signed the law in October. Now, as it gets ready to go into effect, lawmakers are looking for ways to delay it.

California’s budget deficit has grown in years and now stands at a hefty $45 billion.

Newsom’s office projects the new healthcare minimum wage could set the state back another $4 billion per year thanks to higher Medicaid costs and compensation for workers at state-owned facilities.

Presently, the state’s minimum wage for all workers is $16 an hour. This Saturday, the wage will be bumped up between $18 and $23, depending on the job and healthcare provider. The way the law is written, nearly all workers in California healthcare facilities, including the janitors and administration staff who work in the buildings, will be making at least $25 an hour by 2028.

Earlier this year, Newsom also signed legislation that would give fast-food restaurants operating on government property a $20-an-hour fast-food minimum wage.

Critics claim California’s rush to raise wages is fiscally irresponsible and indicative of how “progressive mandates boomerang.”

“Democrats shrugged when healthcare providers warned that the wage mandate could force cuts to patient services,” a recent Wall Street Journal editorial read. “Who cares if Californians wait longer before being seen at the ER? But now Democrats worry that the state’s higher health costs could force bigger government spending cuts. Oh no. Californians may have to wait even longer for their bullet train to nowhere.

“Mr. Newsom is proposing to tie health worker minimum-wage increases to the state’s general fund revenue and to exempt state facilities. But once capital-gains revenue picks up again, California’s private healthcare providers will be stuck paying for the wage mandate, which they will ultimately pass on to patients. Far better to repeal the $25 wage minimum en toto.”

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