HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Local business owners attended a public hearing on Monday to address the need for a higher minimum wage in Pennsylvania.
The Commonwealth’s minimum wage has been set at $7.25 for 15 years, and supporters, including House Democrats, say it’s time for that to change.
“I just ask them to step into my shoes, please step into my shoes, see if you can last one hour,” said a local homecare nurse.
“The testimonies we heard today were pretty powerful and impactful. It just reminded us about who is impacted when we have a low minimum wage,” said Rep. Patty Kim (D-Dauphin/Cumberland).
They say lots of people are affected.
“Sixty-three-point-six thousand Pennsylvania workers earn wages at or below minimum in Pennsylvania in 2022,” said a local business owner.
Pennsylvania is on an island; All of its border states have higher minimum wages.
Democrats have pushed for a minimum wage hike for years with no success, but they think this year could be different.
Democrats control the house, and Republicans appear willing to work with new Governor Josh Shapiro, but it won’t be easy.
House Republican Spokesperson Jason Gottesman says wages are neither the problem nor the solution.
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“It’s not about paying people higher wages, it’s about the government’s involvement in doing that. Right now you have seen many businesses have done that on their own, this needs to be a market-driven approach,” said Gottesman.
Democrats say they’re driving the approach this time.
“The time for justice is now, it is within our reach as the majority party to do the right thing. Our residents, our communities across Pennsylvania are waiting and watching to see what we are going to do,” said Rep. Roni Green (D-Philadelphia County).