Agreement Reached on Workers’ Compensation, Minimum Wage
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has agreed to support a bill (AB 2068) that would allow workers' compensation claimants to choose their own physicians, instead of having employers assign doctors, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Democratic legislators also said the governor has agreed to support legislation to increase the state minimum wage.
A spokesperson for the governor on Monday said Schwarzenegger's support for the workers' compensation legislation and the minimum wage increase are independent matters and not part of a package agreement.
A provision in existing law that allows workers' compensation claimants to select their own physicians, but it is set to expire in April 2007. Employers then would be permitted to assign workers to doctors for treatment of work-related injuries (Yi, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/22).
The legislation Schwarzenegger has agreed to support would extend the deadline by two years.
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles), Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) and Schwarzenegger on Monday also announced that they had reached an agreement on legislation to increase the state minimum wage by about 20% by Jan. 1, 2008, the Los Angeles Times reports (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 8/22).
Under the deal, the state minimum wage will increase by 75 cents per hour to $7.50 per hour on Jan. 1, 2007, and by an additional 50 cents per hour to $8 on Jan. 1, 2008. The agreement will be formally announced on Tuesday, and the Senate on Thursday is expected to consider the legislation (AB 1835) that would enact the increase (Lin, Sacramento Bee, 8/22).
Jean Ross -- executive director of the California Budget Project, a Sacramento think tank -- said a single worker without dependents would need to earn $12.44 hourly to cover the cost of health insurance and basic needs (Los Angeles Times, 8/22).