Controversy swells among state leaders over raising minimum wage


CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Some state leaders say it’s time to tilt the economic playing field back in favor of labor, by raising the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour.

Those in favor of the increase say if enacted, the change would raise the wages of 1.6 million Pennsylvania workers, turning the current minimum wage, into a livable wage.

“It is embarrassing that Pennsylvania is stuck at 7.25 an hour,” said State Representative Patty Kim.

Stuck, while all of Pennsylvania’s surrounding states have a higher one.

“Many Pennsylvania workers are earning less to work the same jobs as their Ohio, West Virginia, or other cross boarder counterparts,” said Keystone Research Center’s Senior Analyst Claire Kovach.

According to Kovach the raise would benefit women, people of color, as well those in service industries and healthcare.

“These are our front line and essential workers who have been shouldering a disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 impact,” said Kovach.

Senator Casey says the last time Congress took action to raise the federal minimum wage was in 2007.

“That is unacceptable. While the incomes of those at the top have skyrocketed, millions of workers and their families have been left behind. It is past time we took action. I am a proud cosponsor of the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. This would raise the wages of tens of millions of workers and pull hundreds of thousands of Americans out of poverty. Raising the minimum wage and helping families achieve financial stability is also one of the best things we can do for our children, too many of whom have parents struggling to put food on the table due to low wages,” said Casey.

On the contrary, Representative Fred Keller says the effects of raising the minimum wage would actually hinder the economy.

“The non-partisan Congressional Budget office estimates that a $15 minimum wage would eliminate 1.4 million jobs, increase the deficit by $54 billion, and result in higher prices for all consumers which would be especially devastating for seniors on a fixed income. This is bad policy that would hurt workers and small businesses at a time when they are already struggling due to the pandemic,” said Keller.

Governor Wolf has already proposed a bill that would raise minimum wage to $12 an hour with a pathway to $15 by July 2027. It has yet to pass.

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