Updated: Aug 23, 2022
Writing a post about working families is a daunting task. This could go in so many directions because the system just isn't working for us. So I'll focus on one thing: the Pennsylvania minimum wage.
The minimum wage in Pennsylvania has been $7.25 an hour since 2009. Since 2009, we've seen several rounds of inflation hit, including the most recent one, leaving some people in devastating financial situations. Had the minimum wage increased with inflation, it should be over $20 an hour.
The opposition to increasing the minimum wage is losing steam. Every neighboring state to the Commonwealth has a higher minimum wage. I believe the minimum wage should be raised to $15 over a period of time with periodic increases in subsequent years.
Smaller businesses will need time to adjust, but raising wages has a positive impact on local economies. When people have money, they spend it. A lot of times I hear people say they don't shop local because it's too expensive and they save money at big box stores. If people could afford to buy from their neighborhood businesses, they would frequent them. In rural areas like this district, it's especially important to shop local because it supports your friends and neighbors.
Another benefit of raising the minimum wage is raising people out of poverty. Increased wages obviously will allow workers to provide better for their loved ones. Housing becomes more affordable, transportation, groceries, and child and elder care all become more affordable. The simple act of raising the minimum wage would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in public welfare programs.
Increased wages also mean one very important thing for the Commonwealth: increased tax revenue. Keeping wages stagnant keeps our economy stagnant, but also it keeps the state budget lower than it needs to be. We all pay taxes from our paychecks and we expect things from our government because of those taxes. When so many services are being cut, education funding is severely lacking (and inequitable), and healthcare is unaffordable and often inaccessible, why aren't we looking at this simple way to increase tax revenue? The state already KNOWS that $15 is a more reasonable wage. They pay their employees no less than $15 an hour with our tax dollars.
And lastly, speaking of employees, your elected officials receive annual raises for the cost of living. This stems from a 1995 law that is still in effect. Next year's raise is set to be the largest ever. So it's apparent that your state legislators are aware that an annual cost of living increase is necessary to maintain the lifestyle one becomes accustomed to. As far as specifics go, Representatives may return their pay raises, and my opponent, Brad Roae, had promised to do so during his original campaign 16 years ago, but the last time he did was in 2016 (according to Spotlight PA). So why is he so opposed to raising the minimum wage for everyone else?