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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pennsylvania should raise the state’s minimum wage, says Governor Tom Wolf.
“When we give people a living wage for their work, it will lift them out of poverty, and as people earn more they can work their way off public assistance,” Wolf told a press conference in Harrisburg on Wednesday.
Wolf asked the state legislature to raise the state’s minimum wage stuck at $7.25 for a decade to $12.00 an hour with a slow increase up to $15.00 an hour by 2025.
The governor says raising the minimum wage will save taxpayers millions in public assistance money.
“If people earn a fair wage, on the other hand, people will need less public assistance, less taxpayer assistance.”
“And that’s going to save taxpayers just in the first six months $36 million — the next two years, $119 million.”
Wolf also said all the states surrounding Pennsylvania are paying higher minimum wages, attracting workers from this state.
While this state’s wage has not changed, Ohio is $8.55 an hour, West Virginia is $8.75 an hour, New Jersey is $8.85 an hour, Delaware is $9.25 an hour, Maryland is $10.10 an hour, and New York’s current minimum wage of $11.10 an hour.
Not everyone agrees the minimum wage should be raised.
Small business organizations, for example, say that small businesses will have to fire some employees in order to pay the other employees higher wages.
In the end, this will come down to the beliefs of Republicans who control the General Assembly.
“To almost double the minimum wage this year is not a good idea,” says Lenny McAllister, the regional director for the commonwealth foundation, a pro-growth, pro-business advocacy group in Harrisburg.
“One of those things you don’t want to do is drive small businesses to the point of going out of business and mirroring what we’re seeing in neighboring states,” McAllister told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
Bottom line – unless Republican lawmakers agree to an increase, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage will remain at $7.25 an hour.