Panera Bread billionaire gets exempted from min wage hike after hefty donation to Gov Newsom

The Progressive man who would be King, California Governor Gavin Newsom, is breaking bread and bending laws again.

In September, the Democrat signed into law a minimum wage raise for California’s fast food workers, boosting the hourly rate for their entry-level job from $16 to $20.

But the slick governor has made an exception for Panera Bread after the billionaire owner of several of the restaurant’s chains made more than $160,000 in donations to Newsom’s campaigns.

According to Bloomberg News, there’s “an unusual exemption” to the minimum wage increase “for chains that bake bread and sell it as a standalone item.”

“Governor Gavin Newsom pushed for that break, according to people familiar with the matter,” the outlet reports.

Greg Flynn, who went to high school with Newsom, is “the billionaire CEO of Flynn Restaurant Group, the company that owns some two dozen Panera Bread locations in the state,” according to the New York Post.

“In 2014, Flynn, who is the largest franchisee in the US with thousands of brands including Applebee’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s, acquired a Napa Valley resort that was managed by Newsom’s hospitality firm, according to disclosure forms,” the outlet reports.

He’s donated “at least $164,800 to Newsom’s campaigns.”

“Flynn emerged as a prominent critic of the fast-food bill, known as the FAST Act. In a 2022 opinion piece in Capitol Weekly, a publication covering California politics, he said it would all but kill the franchising business model in the state,” Bloomberg reports. “Behind closed doors, he urged the governor’s top aides to reconsider whether fast-casual chains such as Panera should be classified as fast food, according to people familiar with the discussions, who asked not to be named because the talks were private.”

Many have found the exemption puzzling, according to Bloomberg, “especially after the governor told reporters last year that it came about as ‘part of the sausage-making’ of politics.”

“In response to detailed questions, Newsom’s office said the wage law was the ‘result of countless hours of negotiations with dozens of stakeholders over two years’ — and will make a real difference for hundreds of thousands of Californians,” the outlet adds.

On X, few are buying Newsom’s line.

Yes, but the exemption only applies to those fast food restaurants that have operated “an on-premise bakery prior to Sept. 15, 2023″ according to one X user, “and the bread must be sold as a stand-alone item.”

“Can’t start now,” another user wrote.

Melissa Fine

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