Despite additional funding for education, workforce development, human services, and healthcare services, budget bill ignores minimum wage.

Capitol

Philadelphia, PA, June 27, 2019 – State Senator Christine M. Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia) today voted ‘no’ on House Bill 790, the $34 billion 2019-2020 state spending plan that failed to include language to raise the Commonwealth’s long-stagnant minimum wage.

Despite vocal opposition, the Republican-led Senate adopted the budget bill, 42-8, and advanced the legislation to the governor’s office for his consideration.

The full Senate vote occurred one day after the Senate adopted legislation, 26-24, mostly along party lines to eliminate the state’s general assistance program that provides modest, temporary, and reimbursable cash assistance to poor people in crisis, including those with disabilities and illnesses, crime victims, and disabled military veterans.

“It has been 4,736 days since Pennsylvania last raised the minimum wage. It is unconscionable that we are walking out of here without doing that,” Senator Tartaglione said. “People are having to choose between food on the table, medicine, rent. They need this!”

Pennsylvania last raised its minimum wage in June 2006 via Senator Tartaglione’s SB 1090 as part of the budget negotiations that year. The measure raised the state’s minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.15. Pennsylvania’s minimum wage later increased another 10 cents an hour when the federal government enacted a $7.25 minimum wage.

At that rate, a full-time, year-round worker would make just over $15,000 a year, which is less than the federal poverty threshold for a single parent with one child or any other two-person household. About 13 percent of Pennsylvania’s 5 million households fall below the poverty threshold.

All six of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states have raised their minimum wages above the federal minimum and are among 29 states that have done so nationwide in recent years.

“Every state bordering Pennsylvania has raised the minimum wage and some have done it twice. (Many minimum wage workers) have children to take care of and many are working two or three jobs,” Senator Tartaglione said.

Senator Tartaglione’s SB 12 proposes to raise the minimum wage to $12 this year and to $15 by 2026 through annual increases of 50 cents. It also would eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tip-earning workers, who can make as little as $2.83 in hourly wages. After 2026, the bill would tie the minimum wage to annual cost of living adjustments.

SB 12 awaits action in the Senate Labor and Industry Committee. The same proposal awaits action as a separate bill in the Pennsylvania House. Both bills have the governor’s support. Senator Tartaglione will continue fighting for legislative action on the issue.

Senator Tartaglione also voted “no” on HB 33 on Wednesday, the legislation that proposes to eliminate the general assistance program that provides temporary transitional income of about $200 a month to just over 11,000 Pennsylvanians as they await approval for federal safety net benefits.

Despite her opposition to the budget, Senator Tartaglione supported many of the provisions contained within it, including funding increases for early education, public education, higher education, career and technical training, student grants, and public libraries. The bill also funds health care and social services for more than 4,000 additional senior citizens and people with disabilities.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact William Kenny at 215-533-0440 or email at William.Kenny@pasenate.com.