The gubernatorial signing deadline for bills passed in California’s 2023 legislative session is a little more than 48 hours away. One piece of legislation still awaiting action is SB 525, a bill that would raise the minimum wage for health care workers and is critical for hospitals to create a stable and predictable path for these increases.
If you’ve been reading Gov. Newsom’s signing statements on bills he’s vetoed over the past several weeks, a recurring theme of his messages is around cost pressures on the state budget. That concern looms over SB 525 as well.
Since the bill was passed — overwhelmingly — in the state Senate and Assembly in September, CHA has been speaking with the governor and senior members of his team to express just how important this bill is for hospitals. Our message: SB 525 preserves access to care while a veto reduces access to care and would immediately put many more hospitals at risk of closure.
To refresh on the specifics of the legislation, SB 525 creates greater stability and predictability for hospitals in three ways:
- Preempting city and county minimum wage measures for 10 years and local compensation measures for six years
- Providing more reasonable phase-in schedules for three tiers of hospitals to reach a $25 minimum wage, with time to plan and budget for these increases
- Limiting the contract workers to whom the wage increases apply
Without SB 525, we know that dozens more hospitals will be thrown into deeper peril as $25 per hour ballot initiatives are likely to pass in cities throughout California and, in addition to a single big jump in wages, would prohibit hospitals from reducing the number of workers or any other personnel action to address higher wage costs.
Once some initiatives pass, they will continue to spread like wildfire. Put another way, hospitals need SB 525 to deliver wage increases that help workers keep up, while helping to avoid closures, service reductions, and widespread layoffs.
In these final couple of days as the fate of a few last remaining bills is determined, please know that your association team is on — 24/7 — in our work to bring months and months of effort to a positive close for California hospitals. We will keep you informed as soon as we hear anything on this vitally important legislation.