Is a $15 minimum wage for Pennsylvanians really worth it?

Pennsylvania

FILE – This Wednesday, April 3, 2019, file photo shows a box filled with dollar bills, in New York. Money is a huge source of stress for many people and more stress is the last thing anyone needs during a global pandemic. It can be easy to avoid checking your finances and dealing with issues, but that avoidance tends to backfire. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — State lawmakers are far apart when it comes to Pennsylvania’s increased minimum wage proposals. Advocates saying the time is now, opposers, say now is not the time.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are mirroring the push to increase the federal minimum wage which has been fixed at $7.25 hourly for over a decade. Gov. Wolf proposed an increase in the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour starting July 1 and a $.50 increase every year until reaching $15 per hour in 2027.

“It is unconscionable and unfathomable that Pennsylvania still permits an individual to work a full time job that subjects them to poverty,” said Senator Jay Costa. “We should all be embarrassed of our minimum wage and our lack of progress, even as every state surrounding us has raised its wage at least once.

Lawmakers pointed to the increase in prices for housing, food and essentials over the past decade.

Hardworking Pennsylvanians deserve better,” said acting Secretary Berrier. “We need a $15 minimum wage, and we need to eliminate the tipped wage and provide one fair wage to all workers.”

Congressional Budget Office projections have found the existing Democratic proposal would help lift millions of Americans out of poverty but increase the federal deficit and cost 1.4 million jobs as employers scale back costlier workforces.

Small business owners battered by the pandemic agreed, saying little savings remains for another blow to the bank.

Republican lawmaker Congressman Fred Keller said raising the minimum wage to $15 wouldn’t actually help those who are struggling.

“What is the goal to raising the minimum wage? If that is to give someone more buying powers, keep in mind that the price of goods and services is going to increase and they’re likely going to end up at the same spot they are now,” Keller said.

Opponents of the countermovement think the raise just isn’t worth the cost.

“Some people will be lifted out of poverty, some people will be put into poverty, and some people will never have the chance to advance out of poverty,” said Gene Barr, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. “So you’re really picking winners and losers by going to $15 an hour.”

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