Testifiers, lawmakers maintain push for minimum wage increase

Livable wages focus of Wednesday’s House Majority Policy Committee hearing

PHILADELPHIA, March 6 – The House Majority Policy Committee gathered testimony from minimum wage earners and public policy experts during a hearing Wednesday as the push to finally increase the wage in Pennsylvania continues.

The hearing was hosted by Rep. Roni Green (D-Phila.) at SEIU Local 668 in Philadelphia. It comes after House Democrats passed legislation in June that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2026. However, that bill is still awaiting action in the GOP-controlled Senate.

“Raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania is an important and timely topic. It has the potential to improve the lives of many with a fair and livable income,” Green said. “Increasing the minimum wage will reduce poverty, promote economic growth, and provide a financial sense of security for workers. It’s unacceptable that we haven’t raised the wage in 16 years.”

Wednesday’s policy hearing featured testimony from Bri Golphin, an employee at the Restaurant Opportunities Center; Karim Jones, a home healthcare worker for SEIU Healthcare PA; and Marc Stier, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Policy Center.

Jones is a full-time caregiver for his brother, who began needing assistance three years ago. Jones said the training offered by SEIU Healthcare PA has greatly impacted the quality of care he’s able to provide. But because of low wages, Jones testified that he supplements his income with part-time work.

“With these extra responsibilities, there have been times where I haven’t been able to care for my brother, and I’m scared for his safety,” Jones said. “A living wage is important because homecare workers are paid with state dollars. We know employees paid with state dollars should be making a living wage.”

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage hasn’t been increased since 2008, when it was raised by just ten cents to the current wage of $7.25. Meanwhile, neighboring states New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Ohio all offer a higher minimum wage than Pennsylvania. In June, the House finally passed legislation to gradually increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026, but it’s been sitting in the Senate Labor and Industry Committee since.

“We’ve been talking about this issue for many years, but inaction has failed our workers. They’ve watched neighboring states do exactly what they’ve been hoping Pennsylvania would do for years,” said House Majority Policy Chairman Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie). “It’s past time we finally give our workers fair and livable wages. We’re going to do everything we can to get this done in the Senate.”

Wednesday’s hearing can be viewed here. Information about this and other House Majority Policy Committee hearings can be found at pahouse.com/policy.