April 21, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Harrisburg, PA – Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed raising the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour, saying it would save the state almost $50 million in public-assistance costs such as Medicaid.
Wolf included the increase in his budget for fiscal 2018, estimating that it would mean 100,000 working people would no longer be poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. The state’s minimum has been $7.25 an hour since 2009, the lowest in the Northeast; a single person working full-time for $8 would make just less than the $16,642 per year cutoff for Medicaid. The bill would increase costs for the state subsidizing wages for child-care workers and home health aides, who often make less than $12, but a review by the state’s nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office called the projected savings “reasonable.” A restaurant and hotel trade group says it’s “definitely opposed” to the proposed increase, however, and Alex Halper, director of government affairs at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, said it could reduce hiring by “suddenly increasing what are usually entry-level wages.” State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), who announced in January that he will run for governor next year, has said he would introduce a bill to raise the minimum to $8.75 on a three-year schedule, but keep it at $7.25 for workers under 18. Read more