Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner supports raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage above $7.25 an hour, but not as high as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed.
During a campaign stop in Robinson Friday, he said Wolf’s proposal to increase it to $12 an hour goes too far.
Instead, Wagner favors a wage in the $8.75 to $9.50 range. At that level, Wagner said, there’s less risk that employers in the service sector will replace workers with automation.
As state Senator, Wagner introduced a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour by 2020. He said he could support a rate as high as $9.50 an hour because, according to him, most businesses already pay more.
“They understand that they can’t hire people at minimum wage,” Wagner said, “and I think we need to get the conversation over with.”
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that roughly 4 percent of hourly workers earn the minimum wage or less in Pennslyvania.
Wagner’s bill is stuck in committee, but the former lawmaker predicted that he could help to pass similar legislation “pretty quickly” as governor.
“I think an advantage that I have is I’ve been in the Senate for four years,” Wagner said. “So, the afternoon when I’m sworn in as the next governor, I don’t have to go around the building and be introduced to Senator so-and-so or Representative so-and-so – I have a relationship.”
Republicans, who control the legislature, have shown little interest in hiking the minimum wage. Pennsylvania has the lowest minimum wage permitted under federal law and one that is lower than those in its neighboring states.