Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Maryland vote to raise minimum wage should encourage Pennsylvania

I welcome the Maryland legislature’s final approval today of a $1-per-hour increase in the minimum wage in that state. The new minimum rate in Maryland will be $6.15 per hour.

Maryland’s Democratic legislature overrode a veto by the Republican governor, so the wage hike will become law there. Maryland is set to join the 18 states nationwide with minimum wages higher than the 9-year-old federal minimum wage. Pennsylvania should take the cue and be the next.

The Maryland legislature’s affirmative vote to increase the state’s minimum wage to $6.15 will mean that 46.3 percent of the nation’s population is protected by a minimum wage higher than the federal standard.

If Pennsylvania would pass one of its minimum wage proposals, which are currently being bottled up by Republican leadership, more than 50 percent of the nation’s population would be protected by a wage higher than the outdated federal rate, which has been eroded by nine years of inflation.

House and Senate Democrats will renew their efforts to increase the state’s minimum wage when the General Assembly returns to Harrisburg later this month. Unlike Maryland, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Edward Rendell strongly supports raising Pennsylvania's minimum wage.

With the addition of Maryland, four states bordering Pennsylvania will have minimum wages higher than the federal rate. The others are New Jersey, Delaware and New York. If you would like to learn more our efforts to raise the minimum wage and the need for this change, you can visit my home page at http://www.pahouse.net/cohen/MinimumWage.asp or one of bills I have introduced to raise the minimum wage, H.B. 2021.