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PA Budget Mum on Minimum Wage

Min WageI can acknowledge the rumors that I was trying to get my bills before the General Assembly that would increase the minimum wage from its deficient $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2016 and up the tipped minimum to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage, but the Republican wall that has prevented any consideration on any minimum wage proposal continued to be hard to crack.

As a result, Pennsylvania’s hardworking front-line men and women will probably have to wait until the fall before the possibility returns for lawmakers and the governor to consider this badly needed increase.

My Senate Bill 1300 would incrementally increase the base hourly rate to $10.10 over the next two years. Future increases would be tied to inflation. Senate Bill 1099 is the vehicle to jump the tipped minimum to 70 percent of the minimum set by SB 1300.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 195,000 Pennsylvanians 16 years old and older who are earned at (87,000) or below (108,000) $7.25 an hour in 2012. Combined, that’s just 5.7 percent of the 3,450 residents who earned an hourly rate two years ago.

The evidence supporting the overwhelmingly positive effects of increasing the minimum wage is out there, and has been reported here. The only people who are suffering – and will continue to suffer – are the workers who can find no other jobs but those that pay the minimum.

Until we increase the minimum wage, Pennsylvania won’t be a commonwealth, it will be commonpoor.

PA Economy’s Sour Note

We’ve watched the number of jobless people decline over the past few months, which is good. But if you are like me, the drop has not brought with it that usual optimistic feeling we usually get when people are going back to work.

Why? I think the Philadelphia Daily News spotlighted a good reason this week: gross domestic product.

PA’s GDP in 2013 increased a scant 0.7 percent. Our neighbors didn’t fare much better, but Delaware did boost its gross domestic product by 1.6 percent and New Jersey’s GDP ticked up 1.1 percent.

What makes the commonwealth’s performance so disappointing is what the Daily News said about the result: “That sluggishness is remarkable considering that the state also is home of the 21st-century version of the Gold Rush: huge stores of natural gas that drillers are extracting at a record rate.”

Need a comparison? West Virginia, which is also enjoying the natural gas boom ­and levies a severance tax on drillers, enjoyed a 5.1 percent increase in 2013 GDP.

Getting out of this recession is proving to be a difficult task for many states in the Northeast, but Corbett administration policies aren’t helping. Unfortunately, the $1.5 billion deficit those ideas and programs (or lack thereof) has created isn’t going to be helped by the 2014-2015 budget that’s about to be approved in Harrisburg.

Pennsylvania is 47th in GDP. Our gross domestic product has fallen every year Tom Corbett has been labeled governor.

SCOTUS Setback for U.S. Presidents

At least as it relates to the National Labor Relations Board, a U.S. Supreme Court decision this week could alter the makeup of its directors. It most certainly will impact future presidential appointments.

The justices decided President Obama, much like other presidents have done in the past during a short recess of the U.S. Senate, violated the constitution by placing Noel Canning on the NLRB.

The president has disagreed with the ruling but said he will honor it. Read more here.

Made in PA

Calling all unions and companies that are proud of their union workforce! Let us know who you are and where you work and we will spotlight you in this section of the Labor Report. Email me the details at