Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Pay-raises, minimum wages, and other forms of calculus

Three pieces today on this loosely structured theme:
  1. PA Governor Ed Rendell made his preseason pitch to lawmakers about his goals for the coming term, and he emphasized raising the minimum wage, among other top priorities. Also mentioned was his support for a repeal of the "unvouchered expenses" portion of the recent legislative pay-raise, the portion that seems to lead to greatest voter fury, and further attempts to get casino tax monies into property owners' pockets.

  2. A Daily News editorial chimes in with support for Rendell's requests, in particular the minimum wage and some sentencing guidelines. On the former, it notes:
    Opposition, particularly from conservatives and the business community, will be swift and fierce. Opponents will argue that a wage hike will result in fewer jobs.

    But the research no longer supports that view. In a now-well-known study conducted by two Princeton University economists, job growth in the 1990s in Pennsylvania was compared to that of New Jersey's, which has a higher minimum wage. According to the study, "employment actually expanded in New Jersey relative to Pennsylvania, where the minimum wage was constant."
    Time for PA to keep up with its more enlightened neighbors.

  3. In news of the ongoing pay-raise fallout, John Baer picks up on something that caught my attention in the Sunday article about GOP in-fighting (see prev.): state House Speaker Perzel's claim that his salary was perfectly justifiable as only 2-3 times what an "immigrant milking cows in Lancaster" makes. His cited figure for the latter was $50-55k, which certainly made me perk up my ears (and reconsider my career choice). Baer does a little fact-checking and comes up with the unsurprising discovery that Perzel's figures were about 3-fold inflated; dairy workers take home more like $17k per year, which makes Perzel's new salary look closer to a 9-10-fold multiple (not including the benefits, cars, and per diems)...


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