Monday, July 25, 2005

Lifting more boats?

A front-page Inquirer article today speculates about whether the widespread outrage over recent legislative pay-hikes will drive passage of a higher minimum wage for Pennsylvania (even though the two were delinked by Rendell's signature).
Almost two decades ago, citizen outrage over a $12,000 legislative pay raise prompted lawmakers to share the benevolence. They boosted Pennsylvania's minimum wage to $3.70, 35 cents above the federal standard.
. . .
Efforts to increase Pennsylvania's minimum wage have been stymied by Republicans and business interests for almost two decades. The three bills, introduced by three Philadelphia lawmakers, propose raising the state minimum wage by as much as $2 over the federal minimum of $5.15. The bills have remained stuck in House and Senate committees.

But now, Gov. Rendell - who as a gubernatorial candidate in 2002 opposed raising the state minimum wage in favor of a federal increase - is on board. With Rendell promising to make the minimum wage a top agenda item this fall, momentum is growing.
The article points out that the last time legislators hiked the minimum wage was also tied to a period of backlash over a payraise that they granted themselves.

As for the level of outrage, columnist John Baer says he's never gotten such volume or variety letters on one topic, and Signe offers a blunt comic giving his own opinion of the matter.

Update: Rendell's Welfare Secretary was apparently among the outraged too.
"I certainly don't believe that people should not have raises, but I believe that part of the business of a state is to make sure our most vulnerable citizens have their needs taken care of, and I think we're leaving some people uncovered."
She was probably in the midst of the painful Medicare cut decisions, so it's not an abstraction to her at all...


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