PHILADELPHIA, September 17, 2013 — At a news conference in Philadelphia’s City Hall today, state Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione announced new legislation aimed at restoring the buying power of Pennsylvania’s minimum wage.
Tartaglione, the Democratic chair of the Labor and Industry Committee was joined by Democratic Appropriations Chair Sen. Vincent J. Hughes and local labor leaders in a push to join other states that have created minimum wages that resist the erosion of inflation.
“Pennsylvania isn’t keeping up with the times or with its neighbors,” Tartaglione said. “Right now, there are too many adults working full-time, but living below the poverty line in this state.”
[hdvideo id=132 ]
Tartaglione was the prime sponsor of legislation that was signed into law in 2006, boosting the state minimum wage from $5.35 an hour to $7.15. The federal minimum wage was increased to the current $7.25 an hour in 2009.
“Creating a minimum wage that accounts for inflation will prevent thousands of working families from sinking below the federal poverty line as they wait for action from the legislature,” Hughes said. “A stagnant minimum wage hurts families and puts increased pressure on already overburdened social services.”
Earlier this year, Tartaglione introduced legislation that would tie Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to the consumer price index, allowing it to rise annually in small increments. One of the bills announced today (Senate Bill 858) would raise the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour by 2015 to account for years of inflation, while the other (Senate Bill 1099) would boost the minimum wage for tipped employees, which has remained unchanged at $2.83 an hour for 15 years, to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.
“Both bills will raise these wages in increments to ensure employers are not financially overburdened,” Tartaglione said. “And both bills will help employees earn more livable wages.”
Hughes noted that 10 states have already adjusted their minimum wages for inflation. Most were accomplished through overwhelming voter approval in statewide referenda.
“We know that there is strong support among all Pennsylvanians for wages that keep families out of poverty,” he said. “The task ahead is to impress that support on the General Assembly.”
New York’s minimum wage will rise to $9 an hour by 2015 under legislation enacted earlier this year, and New Jersey voters will go to the polls this fall to decide whether to raise that state’s minimum wage. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll of New Jersey voters showed 76 percent support for the increase.
“With so much focus on minimum wage right now, this may be the year Pennsylvania’s workers finally get their raises,” Tartaglione said.