From Penn Live | March 28, 2019
The idea of raising the minimum wage may be a divisive topic in the Pennsylvania Legislature, but a new poll shows strong public support for the idea.
Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed said Pennsylvania’s minimum wage should be higher, according to the new Franklin & Marshall College Poll released today. And the question wasn’t a vague hypothetical.
The F&M poll asked if Pennsylvania’s minimum wage should rise from $7.25 per hour to $12 per hour. In response, 47 percent said they strongly favor it and another 22 percent said they “somewhat favor” the idea.
Pictures show PUP members in Harrisburg with prime sponsors of $15/hour minimum wage legislation Senator Tina Tartaglione D-Phila and Representative Patty Kim D-Dauphin, along with Governor Tom Wolf who made the $15 minimum wage part of his budget. The legislature, controlled by Republicans, has not even allowed a vote on minimum wage since 2006!
G. Terry Madonna, the director of the F&M poll, said he wasn’t surprised by the strong support for the minimum wage. The poll found a majority support raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour in virtually every demographic and in every region of the Keystone State.
“Support for a $12 minimum wage, I think, has been growing and growing,” Madonna said.
Gov. Tom Wolf has been pushing to raise the minimum wage since early in his first term. In January, he again proposed raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour. His plan would eventually raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.
The F&M poll does show a partisan divide on the question of raising the minimum wage.
Democrats overwhelmingly said the minimum wage should jump to $12 per hour, the poll found; 88 percent supported it. Among Republicans, 44 percent say the minimum wage should be raised to $12 per hour. Still, Madonna said it was noteworthy Republican support wasn’t far from a majority.
Many Republican lawmakers have opposed raising the minimum wage, which is why the governor hasn’t moved it across the goal line. The GOP controls both chambers of the General Assembly.
Citing concerns of businesses, some Republican lawmakers argue that small companies will be forced to lay off workers if they have to pay a higher minimum wage. Business groups have argued that higher minimum wages lead to higher unemployment.
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, a Centre County Republican, has said Wolf’s proposal isn’t realistic. However, he also said Senate Republicans could support a reasonable increase in the minimum wage, although he didn’t specify an amount.
With an influx of new lawmakers after the 2018 election, the Republican-led General Assembly “is arguably more conservative” than it was in the last session, Madonna said. Still, Madonna said it’s possible there could be GOP support for some kind of bump, albeit less than what Wolf has proposed.
“You get a leader like Senator Corman who says he’s open to a discussion about it, it may mean there could be support for something like $10 an hour,” Madonna said.
In January, 20 states raised their minimum wages. All of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states have a higher minimum wage. To date, 29 states have a higher minimum wage than Pennsylvania, which has mirrored the federal minimum wage since 2009.
The F&M poll surveyed 540 registered voters from March 18-24. The margin of error is 5.5 percent.