Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, at the podium, speaks after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf delivered his budget address for the 2019-20 fiscal year to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.
Katie is a reporter for WITF and hosts PA Post's political podcast State of the State. For two years she has covered the legislature, governor, and a wide range of political issues for public radio stations across Pennsylvania.
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(Harrisburg) — One of Governor Tom Wolf’s perennially-unsuccessful policy suggestions may face better odds this year.
A day after Senate GOP Leader Jake Corman said his caucus would be willing to consider increasing the state minimum wage, a high-ranking House Republican said the prospect isn’t out of the question for his caucus either.
Earlier this month, Governor Tom Wolf included a minimum wage hike in his proposed budget for the fifth year in a row.
It would raise Pennsylvania’s wage from $7.25–the federal minimum–to $12 an hour, and then gradually up to $15.
Republicans haven’t been on board in the past.
But in a speech Monday, Corman said a discussion “needs to happen” and indicated his caucus is shifting on the issue–though he noted, they’d want a lower minimum than Wolf is proposing.
Ed Mahon / PA Post
Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, the same as the federal rate.
They can’t pass anything without the Republican-controlled House, however.
Since Wolf’s proposal, House GOP leaders have repeatedly said they’re more focused on creating higher-paying jobs than raising the minimum.
Appropriations Committee Chair Stan Saylor said that is still the case. But he added, he and other leaders aren’t dismissing Corman’s comments.
“What we would like to do is sit down and talk with the governor about compromises and things that we can work together on,” he said. “We’re open-minded about it.”
Saylor said he thinks even a $12 minimum is too high.
Asked why Republicans are apparently shifting on the issue, Saylor chalked it up to Wolf’s overall-moderate approach to this year’s budget.
“Instead of starting with both sides far away, we’re close together,” he said. “With that kind of symbolism, which I think is good, it means more opportunities for compromises and success for both parties.”
A spokesman for Wolf said while he thinks a $15 wage is best, he is open to a discussion about it.
Pennsylvania hasn’t changed its minimum wage since the federal minimum increased a decade ago. All the states bordering the commonwealth have raised their minimum wages.