Mar. 01, 2019

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Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Governor’s Proposed Hike in the Minimum Wage

As part of his 2019-20 budget proposal, Gov. Tom Wolf is calling for a hike in the minimum wage. Pennsylvania’s current minimum wage is set in parity with the national minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour. $7.25 per hour puts Pennsylvania in line with 22 other states.

The governor’s proposal is to increase the hourly minimum wage to $12 this July, and to continue increasing the minimum by 50 cents each year thereafter until the minimum reaches $15 in 2021. The governor also proposes eliminating the separate minimum wage for tipped employees, e.g., restaurant wait staff, which is currently $2.83 per hour. This would require all restaurants to pay their wait staff the full minimum wage in addition to all tips the wait staff receive.

Based on state data, minimum wage employees make up only 2.3 percent of the total state workforce. Over half of minimum wage workers live in households earning over $50,000, with 33 percent living in households earning over $75,000. Seventy-two percent of minimum wage earners work only part-time, only 7 percent have children, and only 1 percent are single parents. Statistically, the average minimum wage worker in Pennsylvania is a white female between the ages of 16 and 22 who is not married and has no children.

Although an increase in the minimum wage may sound like a nice boost to workers, there are significant consequences to hiking the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. The state’s non-partisan Independent Fiscal Office estimates that the governor’s proposal will cost 33,300 Pennsylvanians their jobs, or about one-third of the total minimum wage workforce. Increases in the minimum wage are also passed along to consumers, increasing the cost of products and services to all of us.

We are a free market economy, but we sometimes seem to forget that fact. When the government decides what is best for you, it essentially picks winners and losers. Under the governor’s proposal, some workers will win and other will lose. Consumers will all lose. Why should we grant to the government that authority over us? Recent favorable jobs figures verify that the free market is providing ample opportunity for those willing to work to succeed without the necessity for government intrusion.
 
 
Budget Hearings Continue

The second full week of budget hearings wrapped up on Thursday, with members of the House Appropriations Committee asking agency and department officials a variety of questions about executive functions, programs and efficiencies. These questions, along with submitted written testimony, will serve as the foundation for budget negotiations this spring.

This week’s hearings featured the State Police, PennDOT, Corrections, General Services, Health, and Drug and Alcohol Programs, as well as the Liquor Control and Gaming Control boards.

Budget hearings conclude next week with appearances by Education, Agriculture, and Military and Veterans Affairs, along with the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) and State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS). Learn more here.
 
 
PennDOT to Start Issuing REAL IDs

Effective Friday, March 1, PennDOT will begin issuing REAL IDs.

A federally accepted form of identification must be used as identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building starting Oct. 1, 2020. A Pennsylvania REAL ID will fulfill this requirement, as will a U.S. Passport.
Under state law, REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. PennDOT will continue to offer standard-issue driver’s licenses and photo IDs.

Pennsylvanians who have pre-verified their required documentation for obtaining a REAL ID may apply online to receive it without visiting a driver license center. PennDOT has indicated those IDs will be mailed out to recipients in 10 business days.

More information about REAL ID, including frequently asked questions and guidelines on documents required to obtain one, can be found at www.penndot.gov/REALID.
 
 
Free Admission at State Museum on March 10

The State Museum in Harrisburg will celebrate the Commonwealth’s 338th birthday on Sunday, March 10, with a rare display of William Penn’s original charter. In addition, there will be free admission to many museums and historic sites around the state, including the State Museum. Learn more here.

Pennsylvania was created when England’s King Charles II granted a charter to Penn in 1681. Once each year the original document goes on exhibit for a limited time. The rest of the time it is stored in a high-security vault, shielding it from strong light and environmental fluctuations.
 
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