Minimum Wage is Hot Topic in Harrisburg Ahead of Budget Deadline
As the Pennsylvania budget deadline draws closer, the fight to increase minimum wage grows stronger. Governor Wolf wants to see an increase to $12 an hour, but the Republicans don’t seem to be on board.
Pennsylvania is one of 17 states in line with the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Amid calls to increase the state’s minimum wage, House Democrats and Republicans are working to find common ground before the budget deadline.
“We need to sit down and do some real negotiating, and what each caucus can live with, and where we can end up with a decent minimum wage that helps working families,” says House Minority Leader Rep. Frank Dermody.
The Pennsylvania Budget Deadline is just three weeks away. Last week, hundred of workers visited the state capitol to call for an increase in minimum wage. Governor Wolf and Lieutenant Governor Fetterman both joined their calls, saying Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is hurting workers. House Minority Leader Dermody agrees.
“Any increase, I think they’d be happy about. We’re trying to fight to make sure we can get closer and closer to a minimum wage, but a minimum wage of $7.25 is an insult,” Rep. Dermody explains.
We reached out to House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler, who was not available for an on camera interview. His office did send a statement though, that reads: “Our members are committed to pursuing polices to help the lowest earners in the Commonwealth earn more money, but those policies cannot come at the expense of the very jobs those Pennsylvanians rely on. Studies from the state’s Independent Fiscal Office show increasing the wage results in cutting jobs and compressing resources. Meanwhile, the state currently has more job openings than qualified people to fill them. The vast majority of those jobs pay much higher than minimum wage. Our policies will continue to focus on providing Pennsylvanians with the tools and pathways to fill those family sustaining jobs.”
The statement refers to a report from the Independent Fiscal Office, which predicts a job loss of 33,000 if the minimum wage moves to $12 an hour. House Minority Leader Dermody says minimum wage increase results in surrounding states dispute that claim.
“What’s happened in other states that raised to 12 and some to 15, all of the states surrounding us are higher than us, and many at 12. That’s talking about New Jersey, New York, Maryland, even Ohio, they’ve had job gains. They haven’t had a job loss, and they’ve increased the tax revenues too, so I think it’s a win-win, and we ought to do it,” says Rep. Dermody.
House Bill 1215, introduced by Representative Patty Kim of Dauphin County, would also remove the existing prohibition on Pennsylvania municipalities going even higher than the state. Rep. Dermody says he looks forward top working with Republicans to get a deal done.
“I don’t know that we’ll get to that $12 part right away, but we want to work with the Republicans as best we can to increase the minimum wage for Pennsylvania workers,” explains Rep. Dermody.
House Bill 1215 is currently in the House’s Labor and Industry Committee.