The call for a $12 an hour minimum wage doesn't come from a Democratic lawmaker or even from the labor movement, it comes from a conservative Republican. Ron Unz says he's starting an initiative petition drive to let voters decide. He thinks he can drum up support from Republicans, especially conservative like himself.
"The government spends $250 billion each year on social welfare spending for the working poor, people who have jobs but can't cover their own expenses," Unz said. "That's a hidden subsidy to the low-wage employers who don't want to cover the costs of their own workers."
Unz also thinks he can get support from Democrats and labor, capitalizing on minimum wage campaigns both in California and nationwide, such as the one aimed at Walmart.
The software executive, who ran against Pete Wilson in the GOP primary 19 years ago, expects the cost will be passed along to consumers, but he doesn't think it will be painful.
"They could cover all the costs by raising their prices by 1 percent one time," Unz said. "It would cost the average Walmart shopper $12.50 more per year, and I think most consumers could afford that very easily."
However, some small business owners say $12 an hour would hurt.
"If I have five employees a day, and I'm increasing their pay by $2, I'm open 10 hours a day times seven days a week, it'd be $100 a day or $3,000 a month at least," Frost Cupcake Factory's Andrea Parks said.
It will take 505,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. Unz is convinced voters are sympathetic and won't be swayed by opposition campaigns.