State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione said today she will continue to push for an update to Pennsylvania’s minimum wage law, after a Senate committee voted to avoid a decision.
The Senate Labor and Industry committee tabled a Tartaglione amendment that would have tied Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to the consumer price index, ensuring that thousands of working families would forever get off a seesaw of poverty.
“There is no issue that more clearly defines the line between the 99 percent and the one percent,” Tartaglione said. “Vast majorities of the public have supported inflation protections in the minimum wage despite heavy lobbying and spending by big business. It’s profit vs. poverty. It’s that simple.”
Tartaglione is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 235, which would apply an annual cost-of-living adjustment to the minimum wage, calculated by applying the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland area for the most recent twelve month-period. The bill is stuck in the Labor and Industry Committee as majority Republicans hope to avoid a vote.
Ten states have applied COLAs to their minimum wages, with half of them doing it through overwhelming support in ballot initiatives.
“The typical gloom-and-doom predictions about the minimum wage have all been debunked and voters are tired of hearing the business lobby say they can’t pay living wages,” Tartaglione said. “A properly adjusted minimum wage will keep working families from falling into poverty and dependence on government support. This is a move toward economic justice and smaller government.”
With the bill stalled in committee, Tartaglione attempted to implement its language through an amendment to another bill poised to move from the committee. The amendment was “tabled,” meaning it did not receive an up or down vote.
“I think this is not the time to tell working families that you’re siding with the CEOs” Tartaglione said. “I think they felt a changing wind and they ducked.”
Pennsylvania last adjusted its minimum wage in steps through 2006 and 2007. Since then, even moderate inflation has pushed a single worker with a child, lifted above the federal poverty line by the 2007 increase, back below the poverty line in 2011.
Tartaglione said she will continue to push for the bill or the amendment after the number of Pennsylvanians earning the minimum wage has jumped by 50 percent in the past year and the state’s poverty rate has hit a 20-year high.
“Working families are starting to understand what they’re up against,” Tartaglione said.