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Battle Over $50 Minimum Wage Proposal Sparks Debate Among California Senate Candidates

California Senate Candidates Tackle Cost of Living Concerns in Second Debate

Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee Proposes $50 Minimum Wage in U.S. Senate Debate

(PHOTO: Battle Over $50 Minimum Wage Proposal Sparks Debate Among California Senate Candidates)

According to USA Today, California’s U.S. Senate candidates engaged in a second debate on Monday which was generally less heated than the first. The candidates discussed various issues with a particular focus on the rising cost of living in California. Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, a former mayor of Oakland, presented a bold proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $50 per hour which drew significant attention during the debate.

Lee, Schiff, Porter, and Garvey are all vying for the vacant Senate seat caused by Feinstein’s passing in September 2023 after three decades in office. Schiff has consistently led in polls while Garvey and Porter are neck-and-neck for second place, according to a recent USC poll. Despite not gaining much traction and staying in fourth place in the polls, Lee’s strong stance on the matter of minimum wage captured national attention.

During a debate televised by KTLA 5, Nikki Laurenzo, the moderator, questioned candidate Lee about her proposal to establish a federal minimum wage of $50 per hour emphasizing the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. Laurenzo remarked that other candidates had suggested a minimum wage of $20 to $25 per hour.

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Lee Advocates for Living Wage Amidst Economic Concerns at Senate Debate

At a debate, the moderator asked Lee how offering a living wage to employees could be economically sustainable for small businesses. Lee, who owns and ran a small business for 11 years, responded by emphasizing the importance of caring for employees and providing them with a living wage to ensure worker productivity.

A politician expressed that $127,000 annual income for a four-person household is barely enough, citing a United Way report (unavailable to USA TODAY upon request). She emphasized the need for higher minimum wages nationally suggesting $20-$25 per hour. However, her focus remains on California’s specific needs and affordability factors when calculating a livable wage.

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