A referendum to overturn San Diego’s minimum wage increase has the green light after it received 56,000 signatures, well more than the required 44,000 signatures to qualify for the 2016 election.
The San Diego Small Business Coalition-led referendum will now go before the San Diego City Council, which has ten business days to act. The council can do one of three things: rescind the ordinance, schedule a special election, or place it on the next regularly scheduled election, which is June 7, 2016.
The council will decide what to do with referendum at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday.
Council President Todd Gloria said he is confident the city’s new minimum wage, which was supposed to take effect in January, will eventually be enacted.
“I will ask my Council colleagues to place this measure on the June 2016 ballot and am confident voters will approve this necessary and common sense increase to the minimum wage and the provision of five earned sick days,” he said in a statement.
Gloria said 63 percent of San Diegans support increasing the minimum wage, according to a recent poll.
Under the San Diego’s Earned Sick Leave-Minimum Wage Ordinance, the minimum wage in San Diego will rise to $9.75 on Jan. 1, 2015. Further wage hikes would be phased in to $11.50 an hour by 2017, followed by automatic inflation escalators.
Through the proposal, 279,000 will have the opportunity to earn up to five sick days per year.
Some local business owners said they couldn’t absorb the costs associated with a higher minimum wage.
“The extreme increase in local wages, just months after the state-mandated 25 percent increase, is too much for small businesses to absorb,” small business owner Ann Kinner said in a statement. “It is already very difficult to keep a business open in this environment and to now increase costs by this amount is just too much. It will force us to cut jobs and benefits, raise prices, or close our doors.”