Calling it an issue of morality as much as one of economics, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a two-step boost to California's minimum wage, up to $9 an hour next year and $10 an hour in 2016.
That increase marks the first in the Golden State since 2008.
"We're taking a step," said Brown at a Wednesday signing event in Oakland, "to give money to those who work very hard but get the least amount of compensation."
The governor also held an event in Los Angeles to sign Assembly Bill 10 into law, the final act in a decision to boost minimum pay that really gained speed earlier this month in private Capitol negotiations between Brown and legislative leaders in the Legislature.
In those talks, the governor downsized AB 10. The bill originally called for not only a boost to $10 an hour, but a new mechanism to make future automatic increases linked to inflation. The compromise erased that 'indexing' language, in exchange for a slightly faster timeline for the increases.
The current state minimum wage of $8 an hour will rise to $9 on July 1, 2014 and to $10 an hour on January 1, 2016.
Brown seized the opportunity Wednesday to link the pay raise to the growing gap between the rich and poor.
"Our society over the last 30 years," he said in the Los Angeles event, "has experienced a growing gap between those who do the work at the bottom... and those who occupy the commanding heights of the economy."
The passage of the new law marked a rare defeat for business interest groups in the 2013 legislative session. They argue the minimum wage hike comes at the wrong time in the state's economic recovery and could force unreasonable costs onto small business owners.
Backers, though, argue low-wage workers will likely spend most of the extra cash and thus provide a boost to the California economy. It's been estimated the pay raise could affect some 1.5 million workers statewide.
California's current minimum wage is lower than that in six states and the District of Columbia; the increase to $9 would make the state second highest... though some of the other states at the top of the list use the same automatic indexing formula that Brown helped carve out of the proposal.
John Myers is News10's political editor. Check out his Twitter feed on California politics, his Facebook page, and the weekly News10 Capitol Connection politics podcast.