Gov. Tom Wolf wants to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $12 an hour, a nearly $5 increase from the status quo.
But getting that done this year with the Republican-controlled assembly will be “tough,” state Sen. Jay Costa told The Incline on Thursday after a rally outside the City-County Building. He was joined by Mayor Bill Peduto, state Rep. Ed Gainey, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Councilman Corey O’Connor.
“We have to continue to be advocates, strong advocates,” Costa continued. “That’s why events like today, raising awareness about where Pennsylvania stands as it relates to the states in this region, the Northeast region, [are] important. Talking about the face of the minimum wage person: that they’re minorities and primarily women and older adults. That conversation, that advocacy has to take place.”
Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, the lowest allowed by federal law. The state is surrounded by higher minimum wages in New York ($10.40 an hour), Maryland ($9.25), West Virginia ($8.75), New Jersey ($8.62), Ohio ($8.32) and Delaware ($8.25).
As Peduto pointed out Thursday, Pittsburgh is gradually raising the minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour. But that’s about all the city can do, because of its second-class status.
Wolf’s budget calls for the state to increase the minimum wage to $12, which if implemented by Jan. 1, 2018 would increase revenue by $40 million, according to an analysis by Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office. The IFO also projected a loss of nearly 54,000 jobs because of the increase, while more than 1.2 million workers would have a higher wage as a result. The governor’s office disputes the analysis.
Just how partisan is this issue? Let’s look at state Rep. Patty Kim 2015 bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. All but one of Allegheny County’s Democrats in the House was a co-sponsor of the bill; no Republicans from the county’s delegation were. In late March, Kim released a memo seeking co-sponsors for a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $12 by 2023. It has yet to be introduced.
|PA Representative||Party||Co-sponsor 2015 bill to raise min wage to $10.10/hour|
|Anita Astorino Kulik||Democrat||Not in office|
|Anthony M. DeLuca||Democrat||Yes|
|Dan L. Miller||Democrat||Yes|
|Daniel J. Deasy||Democrat||Yes|
|Jake Wheatley Jr.||Democrat||Yes|
|Joseph F. Markosek||Democrat||Yes|
|Marc J. Gergely||Democrat||Yes|
|Robert F. Matzie||Democrat||No|
|William C. Kortz II||Democrat||Yes|
|Harold A. English||Republican||No|
On the Senate side, state Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione has introduced a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021. Support for that bill and similar bills introduced by Tartaglione also fall on party lines in Allegheny County.
None of the area’s senators, regardless of party, supported state Sen. Scott Wagner of York’s 2015 proposal to raise the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour over an undefined three year period. Wagner, a Republican who wants to challenge Wolf in 2018, plans to introduce the same bill this session.
|PA Senator||Party||Co-sponsor 2017 bill to raise minimum wage to $15 by 2021||Co-sponsor 2014 bill to raise minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016||Co-sponsor 2015 bill to raise minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016||Co-sponsor 2015 bill to raise minimum wage to $15 30 days after passage||Co-sponsor 2014 bill to raise minimum wage to $12 30 days after passage|
|Guy Reschenthaler||Republican||No||Not in office||Not in office||Not in office||Not in office|
|James R. Brewster||Democrat||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Wayne D. Fontana||Democrat||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
If legislators aren’t able to come to an understand by the June 30 budget deadline, Costa said the issue could get more discussion in the fall or in 2018. He said people who support an increase in the minimum wage should not only talk to their legislators but should start a conversation in their own communities.
“Be educated about the issues,” Costa said. “Be armed with information. Take it to members and family members, and have them become advocates as well.”