Part 1

In the first of a two-part story concerning the proposed minimum wage increase, Rep Jim Gregory of the 80th District (Blair-R) met with The Daily Herald Thursday to candidly discuss and share thoughts and feelings as he is seeing it concerning the proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf to increase the minimum wage here in Pennsylvania. Currently the proposal for the increase of the minimum wage is in the Wolf budget that has been submitted.

“The Republican caucus believes that we should be about creating careers not just jobs. The bigger issue on all of this is the development of a workforce. We really need to be careful is sending a mixed message on developing a workforce versus creating jobs,” Gregory said.

One of the issues that will need to be considered by businesses, especially those smaller businesses that currently are paying the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, was pointed out by Gregory. “Businesses will be finding out that they cannot keep people if they are continuing to pay the current minimum wage,” Gregory said. “With that being said, the minimum wage does have a place in our economy. However, everyone has to realize that we have a crisis situation currently in our workforce. We need to have able-bodied people working,” Gregory added.

Gregory continued, “Raising the minimum wage will actually desensitize people to seek higher education, continue to see two-year degrees in order to fill high demand jobs decrease. This is what is creating the crisis in our workforce currently. We need the highly trained electricians, plumbers and and welders. This mixed message coming forth from the governor’s office in indicating the importance of the workforce.”

Gregory indicates that currently those people who are working minimum wage jobs realize that in order to economically develop, there is a strong need to go on for additional training and in order to capture those higher paying jobs. This incentive may well be diminished greatly by people who now are getting significantly more of a wage while being at the same current job skill. It is not helping the workforce in developing those additional trained and educated employees that are at a critical need at this time in the workforce.

Gregory made an additional point by saying, “The Republican Caucus is the firewall in blocking these increases on the people of Pennsylvania. This would be tremendous increase of hardships on small business. That is something that the Republican Caucus will always guard against.”

Look for part two of this story concerning the proposed raising of the minimum wage here in Pennsylvania in Monday’s edition of The Daily Herald.

Chuck Banas can be reached at cbanas@thedailyherald.net.

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