PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — On the 15th anniversary of the last minimum wage increase in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers renewed their push to hike the wage.
But it’s not clear that Republican lawmakers who control the state Legislature will allow any increase at all.READ MORE: Groundbreaking Set For Housing Complex At Site Of Former Garfield Synagogue
On Friday, Wolf and Democratic legislators gathered at a church in Philadelphia, where 15 years ago then-Gov. Ed Rendell signed the state’s last minimum wage increase into law.
“That was 15 years ago, 15 years ago,” Wolf told the crowd. “I wish I were signing a new minimum wage increase law right here today on the 15th anniversary day.”
Wolf and his colleagues signed a letter to Republican lawmakers on Friday, urging a vote on Senate Bill 12 that would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $12.00 an hour with a gradual 50-cent increase each year to $15.00 an hour by 2027.
“The fact that Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has not been increased in 15 years is an embarrassment,” said Wolf. “It’s an insult to all of us. It’s an insult to hard-working Pennsylvanians.”
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Wolf noted that every state surrounding Pennsylvania has a higher minimum wage.READ MORE: Rite Aid To Open Location At South Side Works In 2022
While Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour, West Virginia is $8.75 per hour, Ohio is $8.80 per hour, Maryland is $11.75 per hour, and New York is $12.50 per hour.
“The minimum wage is really irrelevant,” said former Republican Pa. Rep. Stephen Bloom, now vice president of the pro-business Commonwealth Foundation.
“If someone is making minimum wage today, their opportunity to go down the street to some other place to get a job at a much higher rate, it’s never been better,” Bloom told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Friday.
Bloom says there is no need for new laws because the marketplace is driving wages up.
“You’ll find that they’re advertising jobs at $20 an hour, wages significantly higher than the $12 an hour that the governor’s talking about – and they can’t fill them,” said Bloom.
While Bloom said 6/10th of one percent of the state’s jobs are at $7.25 an hour, Wolf said a bump to $12 an hour would raise wages for 1.1 million Pennsylvanians.
Rendell, who signed the last wage hike in 2006, had this advice for pro-minimum wage lawmakers dealing with GOP legislative leaders.MORE NEWS: Carnegie Museum Asking For Visitor Feedback On Cultural Sensitivity
“I think what we need is go and be hell-raisers again,” said Rendell. “So get out there and drive them crazy. Drive them absolutely batty.”