Watch CBS News

Low-income earners feeling hopeful as Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro repeats commitment to $15 minimum wage

Gov. Josh Shapiro proposes raising Pennsylvania's minimum wage in budget proposal
Gov. Josh Shapiro proposes raising Pennsylvania's minimum wage in budget proposal 02:40

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- In his budget address Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro renewed a promise that was a large part of his campaign: raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

To loud cheers from those in the Capitol rotunda, Gov. Shapiro said more than doubling the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is the smartest decision for Pennsylvania's economy.

"We have seen proof that Pennsylvania workers living in border counties would rather drive into another state for work so they can earn a higher wage than take a job at home in Pennsylvania," Shapiro said. "It's time we raise our minimum wage to $15 an hour here in Pennsylvania."

It's a message that brings hope to Harold Santos-Sanchez, a community activist and volunteer at Katie's Cupboard food pantry on Howard Street in Philadelphia. Before he started volunteering with the organization last September, Santos-Sanchez came to Katie's Cupboard seeking a meal. 

"I had to go through the struggle," Santos-Sanchez said. "I had to basically look for where can I get food."

Santos-Sanchez's prior job in loss prevention started at $14.50 an hour, but that wasn't enough to keep up with the increasing cost of living. He knows that many feel the same. In Pennsylvania, 776,000 people earn less than $15, according to the Keystone Research Center

Members of the State Assembly have, in recent years, been at an impasse when it comes to increasing the minimum wage.

In December, Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman told CBS Pittsburgh, through a statement, "I have made it quite clear both publicly and privately, that our caucus is open to a compromise on minimum wage, but unfortunately House Democrats and the Governor have shown no willingness to consider a more reasonable adjustment."

This year, Pennsylvania has been overshadowed by neighboring states that increased their minimum wages Jan. 1. Ohio raised its minimum wage to $10.45 an hour, and Maryland and New York increased theirs to $15 an hour. However, New York City and some of its suburbs have a minimum of $16 an hour.

"Raising the minimum wage is going to make us more competitive," Gov. Shapiro said Tuesday. "It's going to create more economic opportunity."

Other proposals in Shapiro's budget

Raising Pennsylvania's minimum wage isn't the only big proposal in Shapiro's budget.

Shapiro wants to invest $1.1 billion in new funding for K-12 public schools across the Commonwealth.

Shapiro also proposed spending $100 million on violence reduction efforts, and he wants to give SEPTA another $161 million. He said that would prevent service cuts and fare hikes on the transit system.

Like other states surrounding Pennsylvania, Shapiro also wants to regulate adult use of marijuana. 

As a new revenue stream, Shapiro wants to legalize adult-use marijuana, following the example of neighbors Ohio, New Jersey and New York. Shapiro's administration estimates the industry would eventually yield $250 million in additional annual revenue. He also called for expunging records of those incarcerated for marijuana and using $5 million for restorative justice.  

"We need to legalize marijuana," Shapiro wrote on X. "We're losing out on an industry that would bring in more than $250 million in annual revenue. And our failure to legalize and regulate marijuana only fuels the black market and drains much needed resources for law enforcement. It's time to catch up."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.