Minimum wage hike needed, but budget time not the right time

Provisions to increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $12 an hour were not addressed with the new state budget, as Gov. Tom Wolf had hoped.

We hope that does not mean the minimum wage will not be increased. It is well past time to increase the lowest minimum wage in the country. It is so overdue we are willing to set aside our normal resistance to the government telling businesses what they should pay people rather than the free market determining such things.

State Sen. Eugene Yaw, who represents much of our region, said lawmakers did not feel budget time was the right time to address the issue, especially since there remain questions about what the new minimum wage should be. There also is heavy sentiment toward a more phased-in hike in the minimum wage than what Wolf is pushing.

We hope the Legislature addresses a modest minimum wage hike when it returns from its summer hiatus.

But a leap to $12 an hour is too much for the small businesses that provide most of the employment roster in Pennsylvania. It would mainly mean fewer people being hired and cutbacks to existing employment rolls.

And a provision to get the minimum wage to $15 an hour in a few more years is way too much, way too soon.

The very people who are the intended beneficiaries of a minimum-wage hike — entry-level and lower-paid employees — would be the ones hurt by increases in the minimum wage if they are too sharp.

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