Lawmakers and workers’ advocates renewed the call for fair, family-sustaining wages
HARRISBURG, PA, February 5, 2018 – State Sen. Christine Tartaglione today announced recently introduced legislation that proposes to raise Pennsylvania’s long-stagnant minimum wage. Surrounded by colleagues in the General Assembly, other workers’ advocates and members of Raise the Wage PA, Tartaglione announced the details of Senate Bill 1044 that would impact millions of low-wage Pennsylvanians.
“For far too long, many Pennsylvanians have had to manage with far too little,” Senator Tartaglione said. “Regrettably, Pennsylvania hasn’t raised its minimum wage since 2006 and the federal government hasn’t raised the minimum wage since 2009. That is why we are here today, to advocate again for raising the minimum wage.”
Senator Tartaglione has been at the forefront of the minimum wage issue throughout her 24 years in the Senate. She negotiated Pennsylvania’s last minimum wage increase in 2006. But since then, Pennsylvania has fallen behind the times. All six of its neighbor states have minimum wages above the $7.25 federal level, as do 28 states across the country. But Pennsylvania does not.
Similarly, tipped workers in Pennsylvania have gone without a raise in the minimum wage since 1998. They are entitled to just $2.83 an hour under the law.
“Under the current minimum wage, a worker who logs 40 hours a week makes just about $15,000 a year,” Senator Tartaglione said. “That’s below the federal poverty level for a two-person household. And in Pennsylvania, it qualifies the worker to collect Food Stamps. And that is unacceptable.”
Tartaglione’s Senate bill is a companion bill to similar legislation introduced in the Pennsylvania House by Rep. Patty Kim. Under the bill, the minimum wage would rise to $12 an hour immediately ($9 for tipped workers), then increase incrementally to $15 in 2024 ($12 for tipped workers). After 2024, the minimum wage would increase automatically each year based on a cost-of-living adjustment.
The senator noted that the cost of living has risen dramatically since the last time Pennsylvania raised its minimum wage. The cost of a loaf of bread has risen from 97 cents to about $2.50. A gallon of milk has risen from about $3.25 to over $4. A dozen eggs have risen from about one dollar to $2.65.
“The minimum wage isn’t about giving a handout. It’s about giving a hand up,” Senator Tartaglione said.
Sen. Art Haywood, a co-sponsor of SB 1044, joined Senator Tartaglione at today’s news conference in the Capitol. Haywood is the primary sponsor of SB 1045, which would add onto Tartaglione’s legislation by gradually increasing the tipped minimum wage to match the non-tipped minimum wage over three years starting in 2025. Haywood’s bill, which was co-sponsored by Tartaglione, would also eliminate a provision in state law that prevents municipalities from raising their local minimum wages above the state minimum.
Senate Majority Leader Jay Costa, John Meyerson of Raise the Wage PA, The Rev. Sandra L. Strauss of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Mark Price of Keystone Research Center and John Traynor, owner of the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center, also joined Senator Tartaglione for today’s announcement.
# # #
If you would like more information about this topic, please contact William Kenny at 215-533-0440 or email at William.Kenny@pasenate.com.