$15 minimum wage passes in PA House, but faces the ax in GOP-controlled Senate
The bill would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $11 in 2024 and increase by $2 until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026. However, it’s likely to get axed.
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Pennsylvania’s Democratic-controlled state House passed legislation on Tuesday, June 20 that would raise the minimum wage for the first in over 14-years to $15 an hour by 2026.
"It's a historic day in Pennsylvania. Raising the minimum wage predates my time in the legislature- the push to do that, to bring Pennsylvania up to par with their surrounding state. Today, the Pennsylvania House Democrats delivered," said Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie), Chairman of the House Majority Policy Committee.
The $7.25 minimum wage has not been changed since 2009, in big part due to the Republican-controlled legislature’s denial of several similar bills.
"It's been 16 years since we've had the last minimum wage hike and I know some people just want this issue to go away, and it will, if we just pass this minimum wage hike," said Rep. Patty Kim (D), 103rd District.
The PA state House, which holds a one-seat Democratic majority, voted to increase the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $11 at the beginning of this upcoming new year and increase it by $2 until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026.
The new legislation would also increase the minimum tipped wage for servers and bartenders to 60% of the minimum wage, which Rep. Valerie Gaydos (R., Allegheny) argued would hurt the restaurant industry that is still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly hasn’t raised the minimum wage since 2006, and the state’s wage is the lowest of any state in the region. New Jersey bumped up their minimum wage to $14.13 an hour, which is a $1.13 raise.
Thirty states, including Washington, D.C., have raised the minimum wage above the federal minimum, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Every neighboring state has also raised the minimum wage.
Passing with a 103-100 vote with most Democrats in favor, it faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate with lawmakers and Gov. Josh Shapiro focused on budget legislation ahead of the July 1 deadline.
The bill would need to pass the state Senate before going to Shapiro’s desk.
Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R., Indiana) said in a statement Tuesday that $15 per hour is “not reasonable and not viable.”
About 2% of Pennsylvania’s workers earned the minimum wage last year, or 63,000 workers, according to a March Department of Labor and Industry report. Roughly 13% of state workers, or 819,000 workers, earn just above minimum wage, between $7.26 and $12 per hour.
Some of the Republicans expressed concerns about potential consequences for small businesses regarding rising costs associated with raising the wage.
“I cannot support a bill that would put a local family restaurant out of business and, along with it, the many employees who make a living at their three locations,” said Rep. Katie Klunk, a York County Republican.
While Dauphin County Democratic Rep. Patty Kim said it should be more.
“An African proverb says, ‘When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers,’” she said. “Even if we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, the grass still suffers. I support this bill because this is a piece to a larger puzzle that will help working families.”