By Zach Brendza | Features Editor
A new piece of legislation would raise the minimum hourly wage in Pennsylvania to $10.10.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tina Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia), would continually increase the minimum wage until 2016, amending a 1968 act that scheduled wage adjustments.
If passed, minimum wage would see three wage increases over the two-year span, rising to $8.20 on July 1, $9.15 on Jan. 1, 2015 and $10.10 on Jan. 1, 2016.
In a memorandum to members of the state Senate, Tartaglione called Pennyslvania’s current minimum wage of $7.25 “outdated,” and that the state’s Minimum Wage Act “has become archaic.”
“At a time when employees around the state and nation are becoming increasingly courageous in demanding their rights in the workplace, it is our responsibility to support these individuals to the greatest extent possible by setting a reasonable standard for wage rates and ensuring employers are held fully accountable for their actions,” Tartaglione wrote.
Antony Davies, associate professor of economics at Duquesne, said he anticipates that raising the state minimum wage to $10.10 will not cause a measurable decline in economic activity, and won’t cause a rise either.
“I believe that the push for a higher minimum wage is often due to good people caring enough about the poor to want to do something to help, but not enough to want to take the time to understand fully the implications of what they propose,” Davies said.
While he expects the change would not affect unemployment, Davies said he believes it will change who is impacted.
“On average, it is the least skilled, least educated, least experienced workers who are unemployed. Sadly, those are the very workers we want to help the most,” Davies said.
Senate Bill 1300 would authorize local governments to raise the minimum wage in their own municipalities.
“By allowing individual municipalities to raise their minimum wage rates in alignment with their own local economies, workers living in those areas will be able to afford local housing and necessary expenses, such as daily commuting costs,” Tartaglione said.
The legislation would also increase penalties on employers who violate the act, requiring them to pay a fine to the state which would be used to create and finance an enforcement fund. The money would be used to help investigate employers.
Tartaglione introduced two bills regarding minimum wage to the Senate floor previously. Senate Bill 858, brought forth in April 2013, would raise minimum wage to $9 by Jan. 1, 2015 and Senate Bill 1009 in September 2013 would raise the tipped minimum wage, for employees who regularly receive tips, to 70 percent of regular minimum wage. Both of these bills have stalled in the Senate Labor and Industry Committee.
This prompted Tartaglione to draft Senate Bill 1300, which would make the wages less outdated, according to her office.