William O'Boyle: Beyond the Byline: Time to raise Pa.'s minimum wage

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Jul. 11—Back in the late 1960s, the minimum wage was, I think, $1.25 per hour.

And boy did we think that was a lot of money.

We rushed to get those jobs so we could put gas in our cars and buy what we needed for the weekends and, sometimes, go on a date.

Yeah, we felt pretty chunked when we got that weekly paycheck of around 40 bucks.

My pal Bob Barney and I worked the line at Golden Quality. We would sit across from each other and pack Nutty Buddies, ice cream sandwiches and other Golden delights into boxes.

Hey we needed the moolah.

And all these years later, our governor and legislature are trying to increase the minimum wage to a robust $12 per hour, with a progressive rise to $15 per hour.

What we coulda done with that back in the '60s!

I realize it's all relative.

This week Gov. Tom Wolf joined Sens. Vincent Hughes and Christine Tartaglione, House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton and numerous House and Senate Democratic members, along with labor, religious and community leaders to call for an increase to Pennsylvania's minimum wage.

"The fact that Pennsylvania's minimum wage hasn't increased in 15 years is an embarrassment," said Gov. Wolf. "It's an insult to hardworking Pennsylvanians who are doing the same amount of work, but finding that their paychecks cover less and less every single year."

Wolf said the Republican majority in the General Assembly doesn't support the increase.

The governor has proposed raising the minimum wage each year since taking office. His plan would increase the state's embarrassingly low minimum wage to $12 per hour with a path to $15 per hour.

"Increasing the minimum wage puts more money into the pockets of workers, which gives local businesses more customers," said Gov. Wolf. "Boosting wages helps businesses attract and keep good employees. Raising the minimum wage allows Pennsylvanians to work their way out of poverty, saves tax dollars and helps local communities — especially rural communities."

Some eight other states are on a path to $15, including the red state of Florida. Overall, 29 other states, including every state that borders Pennsylvania, have raised the minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.

Wolf said 75 percent of the workers who would earn more for their hard work are age 20 or older and nearly 40 percent work full-time, which refutes harmful stereotypes by making clear that hundreds of thousands of adults are stuck making poverty wages.

Rural workers also gain the most from raising the minimum wage. The highest percentage of workers getting a raise with a $15 minimum wage are in 29 rural counties, according to findings from the Keystone Research Center.

"Pennsylvania's minimum wage is bad for workers, bad for businesses and bad for our economy," said Gov. Wolf. "It is past time to raise the wage in Pennsylvania. I call on the leadership in the General Assembly to do the right thing, and send a minimum wage increase to my desk before another year goes by."

Good luck, governor.

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