November 30, 2023

By Brooke Schultz


HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s Democratic-controlled Home of Representatives accredited a measure by an in depth vote final Tuesday that will increase the minimal wage to $15 by 2026, fulfilling a long-held celebration marketing campaign plank that has run up in opposition to Republican legislative majorities for years.

The invoice handed 103-100 with all however one Democrat voting for it and two Republicans becoming a member of them. But it surely has an unsure future within the Republican-controlled Senate as lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro more and more give attention to price range laws forward of the July 1 begin of the brand new fiscal 12 months.

Pennsylvania’s minimal wage is about on the federal minimal of $7.25, and final elevated in 2009.

The measure would regularly enhance the minimal wage to $15 by altering from $7.25 to $11 in its first 12 months, then to $13 in 2025 and eventually to $15 in 2026. The invoice ties future will increase to inflation, which sponsors say mirrors motion taken by 15 different states.

The laws would additionally enhance the tipped wage to 60% of the minimal wage from the present $2.83 an hour. The motion comes after Democrats gained a Home majority for the primary time in a dozen years, albeit by one seat.

It’s been a yearslong effort for Democrats, who’ve campaigned on rising the minimal wage nationally.

Rep. Justin Fleming, a Dauphin County Democrat, mentioned it was one in all his priorities as a candidate. He recalled working for a former Democratic governor when the Legislature final elevated the minimal wage.

“For those who had informed me that it could be 14 years earlier than this physique would take one other stab to lift the minimal wage, I merely wouldn’t have believed it,” he mentioned. “Passing this invoice will preserve staff who reside near our borders right here within the state and patronizing Pennsylvania companies.”

Republicans emphasised considerations for small companies and rising prices related to elevating the wage.

“I can’t assist a invoice that will put a neighborhood household restaurant out of enterprise and, together with it, the numerous staff who make a dwelling at their three areas,” mentioned Rep. Kate Klunk, a York County Republican.

For some Democrats, the hassle didn’t prolong far sufficient.

“An African proverb says, ‘When elephants struggle, it’s the grass that suffers,’” mentioned Dauphin County Democratic Rep. Patty Kim. “Even when we increase the minimal wage to $15 an hour, the grass nonetheless suffers. I assist this invoice as a result of it is a piece to a bigger puzzle that can assist working households.”

Shapiro campaigned final 12 months for a $15 minimal wage, and, in his first price range handle, he requested for the rise. Republican opposition stymied efforts by former Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf by his eight years in workplace to lift the minimal wage.

Wolf imposed increased wage necessities on corporations getting loans, grants, or tax breaks from the state authorities by an government order in 2021. He did the identical to state contractors in 2016.

All informed, 30 different states and Washington, D.C., have raised the minimal wage above the federal minimal, together with some Republican-controlled states, in response to the Nationwide Convention of State Legislatures. Each neighbor of Pennsylvania additionally has raised the minimal wage, though Ohio’s legislation exempts lower-earning companies and staff below 16.

June is price range month in Pennsylvania’s Legislature and infrequently a time for deal-making on pet coverage priorities between governors and prime lawmakers. Senate Majority Chief Joe Pittman (R-Indiana) mentioned final week that his caucus would await the Home to cross a minimal wage invoice to think about it. Nevertheless, he mentioned, “$15 an hour will not be a sensible quantity” for Republicans in that chamber to think about. In a cope with Wolf in 2019, the Senate agreed to lift Pennsylvania’s minimal wage in 4 steps to $9.50 in 2022, however the Home’s Republican majority blocked it.