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Pennsylvania Stands Still As Neighbors Hike Minimum Wage, But Some Lawmakers See Action In 2022

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The battle to raise Pennsylvania's minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009, is heating up again.

It comes as Pennsylvania remains one of the few states in the region not to adjust its basic wage.

What do Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Delaware all share in common besides a border with Pennsylvania? They each have higher minimum wages than Pennsylvania, and some are raising them in 2022 – but Pennsylvania is not.

"It's 5,651 days since the Pennsylvania Legislature last gave a raise for the minimum wage. That's a long time," PA Sen. Christine Tartaglione, a Philadelphia Democrat, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.

While Pennsylvania's minimum wage is stuck at $7.25 an hour, neighboring states will be offering more on Jan. 1: $8.75 in West Virginia, $9.30 in Ohio, $10.50 in Delaware, $12.50 in Maryland, $13.00 in New Jersey and $13.20 in New York.

Tartaglione authored the last minimum wage in 2006 and has a bill to raise the wage for everyone, including all restaurant and tip workers.

"Now I have Senate Bill 12, which will bring the minimum wage to $12.00 with a pathway to $15.00. It's not going to start right at $15.00," said Tartaglione.

Tartaglione blames Republican leaders, who control the House and Senate in Harrisburg, for not scheduling a vote, and even some Republicans like PA Sen. Dan Laughlin, a Republican from Erie, say it's time to adjust the wage.

"From a political standpoint, I think it's rather embarrassing to be one of the remaining states that have it set at $7.25," Laughlin said. "So that's a little bit of a push to try to get this legislation done."

Laughlin's bill would raise the minimum wage to $10.00 an hour, and he's optimistic Republican leaders will allow a vote on his bill in 2022.

"I am pretty hopeful that we will get this done this coming spring," Laughlin said.

Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, who would schedule the Senate vote, told KDKA a vote on this issue is not out of the question.

As Pennsylvania falls further behind its neighbors, many lawmakers agree that the failure to act both encourages our residents to leave the state and discourages out-of-staters from moving in.

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