Advice for the Voting Booth: Consider Who Will Support the Agenda to Raise Pennsylvania’s Pay?

Stephen Herzenberg |

The day before the election, Pennsylvanians who go to the polls tomorrow have one last chance to consider the choices they will make.

Since Keystone Research Center is an economic think thank focused on the middle class, our efforts to inform voters have highlighted two issues: how the middle class is doing; and the policies that would benefit the middle class going forward.

In The State of Working Pennsylvania 2016, we highlighted that, most of the middle class has not done well over the past 15 to 35 years (even though the last year and the last month have been good ones). Long term, however, when you cut the electorate by race/ethnicity, gender, or education (college or not), every large group has seen its wages stagnate or decline.

We (and many others) think that long-term economic difficulties underly some of the anger that surfaced in this election.

When it comes to policy, we’ve urged Pennsylvanians to channel their anger towards electing candidates who will enact policies that would “raise Pennsylvania’s pay.” Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face by supporting candidates who will double down on a policy agenda for the 1 percent.

The end of The State of Working Pennsylvania 2016 details an “Agenda to Raise Pennsylvania’s Pay” and contrasts it with “The Agenda to Lower Pennsylvania’s Pay.” The contrast is a pretty stark one. One group of Pennsylvania candidates and office holders wants to raise the minimum wage, give workers more bargaining power with employers, and boost investement in education and infrastructure that will create more middle-class jobs for every major demographic group. Another group of candidates and office holders are on record as championing the policies favored by Pennsylvania’s self-described “free market think tank,” the Commonwealth Foundation. Those candidates don’t want to raise the minimum wage (or want to raise it as little as possible), do want to weaken the power of working families in bargaining with employers and in politics, and don’t want to raise revenues to invest in schools or in infrastructure.

If you’re a hard working Pennsylvanian who hasn’t seen a significant raise in…forever, we think the choice is simple. You should vote for candidates who will support The Agenda to Raise Pennsylvania’s Pay.