Daylin Leach calls for higher minimum wage
State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, of Upper Merion, announced he will co-sponsor legislation to both raise the minimum wage and eliminate the tipped minimum wage in Pennsylvania.
Leach is proposing to increase the state minimum wage to $12 per hour. The current minimum wage is in line with the federal rate of $7.25 per hour.
“This idea that the only way we can succeed is to pay starvation wages is just false,” Leach said. “We want to do something about that.”
Leach is co-sponsoring the legislation with state Sen. Mike Stack, D-5, of Philadelphia.
The senators also want to eliminate the state tipped minimum wage, which enables employers to use tips against all but $2.83 of the minimum wage. The federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13 per hour.
“The theory behind the tip is it’s something extra – voluntarily paid, but not always paid,” Leach said. “It’s supposed to be something extra for the waiter or waitress.”
Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, said the Senate leadership will discuss raising the minimum wage.
“We fully anticipate a conversation about increasing the minimum wage,” Arneson said. “It’s a national issue, not just in Pennsylvania. But no one is seriously discussing an increase to $12.”
Twenty-one states have minimum wage rates higher than the federal level. Washington, at $9.32 per hour, has the highest. Oregon is the only other state with a minimum wage of at least $9 per hour.
President Barack Obama asked Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour during his State of the Union address in January. He used an executive order in February to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors.
The proposal has the backing of 71 percent of Americans, according to a Gallup poll released March 6. Democrats overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage. Half of Republicans back it.
There are at least 29 state legislatures considering bills that would raise their respective state’s minimum wage rates, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Leach said he likely will formally introduce the bill sometime next week.
Leach said he was hopeful it will come to a vote on the Senate floor. Both the state Senate and state House of Representatives are controlled by Republicans.
“We have some obstacles,” Leach said. “However, Gov. (Tom) Corbett has moderated his opinions on a number of issues because he’s seen some of the poll numbers.”
Leach is running for the U.S. House of Representatives. He is among four Democrats vying to fill the open seat in the 13th Congressional District. U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Democrat from Abington, is leaving the post to run for Governor.
Democrats Brendan F. Boyle, of Philadelphia, Marjorie Margolies, of Plymouth, and Val Arkoosh, of Springfield, Montgomery County, also seek the 13th Congressional seat. Beverly Plosa-Bowser, of Upper Hanover, and Carson Dee Adcock, of Abington, are running for the seat as Republicans.