HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — In the last week of January, Governor Tom Wolf’s administration announced that commonwealth employees would see a raise in their minimum wage to $15 an hour by Jan. 31, 2022 and his call for action did not stop there. On Tuesday, Feb. 8, Gov. Wolf pushed for a minimum wage increase for all Pennsylvanians during his budget address.
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During his address Tuesday morning, Gov. Wolf pointed out that most of the states in Pennsylvania’s region are on their way to a $15 minimum wage. However, Pennsylvania’s has not increased since 2009 and is stuck at $7.25.
In 2022, the state’s neighboring states that will see an increase include: Delaware ($10.50), Maryland ($12.20), New Jersey ($13), New York ($13.20), Ohio ($8.80), and West Virginia ($8.75).
“This is embarrassing. And just like school funding, refusing to address the problem won’t make it go away,” Gov. Wolf said. “In fact, quite the opposite. Our failure to increase the minimum wage is costing us dearly. It’s very simple. When people are able to earn a decent wage, they can contribute to the economic life of their communities – and the commonwealth.”
Gov. Wolf added that it is the right thing to do, the smart thing to do and it is not a complicated or abstract issue.
“If we adopted, for example, Senator Tartaglione and Representative Kim’s plan to raise our minimum wage, the economic benefit to our commonwealth would amount to over $77 million in the first year. That includes not only increased revenues, but also savings from state benefits programs,” Gov. Wolf said.
However, not everyone agrees, including Chad Hopple who owns West Shore Decks.
“The people that benefit the most out of a $15 an hour minimum wage is the government because they can get more tax money out of someone that’s making $15 an hour versus someone that’s making $7.25,” Hopple said.
Hopple actually already starts his workers at $15 an hour.
“We’re not really a minimum wage company. So if we’re going to compete with anybody, and have this type of business, we’re going to have to pay a higher wage,” Hopple said.
Hopple says that in turn will mean he has to charge customers more.
This is not the first time Gov. Wolf has called for a wage increase statewide. His most recent attempt was in Dec. 2021 when he urged the Republican-led General Assembly to act on increasing what he said is an “embarrassingly low $7.25-per-hour minimum wage.”
Highlighted in his budget, Gov. Wolf proposes an increase to $12 an hour by July 1, 2022 with an annual increase of fifty-cents until the minimum wage reaches $15 an hour on July 1, 2028.
“An increase to $15 would directly benefit nearly 1.5 million workers, or 25 percent of Pennsylvania workers. Increasing the minimum wage means that workers in Pennsylvania can better meet basic needs including housing, groceries, transportation, and child care,” according to the budget.
To learn more about Gov. Wolf’s budget address for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, click here.