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During the second week of annual budget hearings with the heads of state agencies and state row offices, House and Senate Appropriations Committee members discussed a variety of issues related to the Wolf administration’s 2018-19 proposed state spending plan and related policy initiatives.
At a Senate Appropriations Hearing with L&I Secretary Jerry Oleksiak, questions were asked about the impact of minimum wage increases on employers and the overall economy. Sen. Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, noted the state’s Independent Fiscal Office report last year showing that an increase to $12 an hour – as Gov. Wolf wants to impose in this year’s budget – would lead to 54,000 lost jobs. According to a summary of the hearing by Pennsylvania Legislative Services, Oleksiak acknowledged there are different reports and opined that some of the benefits he believes exists with minimum wage increases is that they “save on state aid and assistance provided to people earning minimum wage.” The PA Chamber is steadfastly opposed to government mandated wage hikes, as they are proven to result in fewer employee hours, less investment and hiring opportunities and job loss (especially among smaller businesses).