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Trib editorial: Gov. Wolf's overtime proposal another counterproductive diktat

| Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
Gov. Tom Wolf
State of Pennsylvania
Gov. Tom Wolf

Like minimum-wage laws, Gov. Tom Wolf's proposal to expand overtime-pay eligibility is a government diktat about matters that are not government's to mandate — and likely would hurt those it's supposed to help.

In an end run around the Republican Legislature that's refused his minimum-wage-hike pleas, the Democrat governor wants a phased-in rise in the minimum salary level for overtime eligibility, from the federal $23,660 threshold to $47,892 by 2022. It's similar to an Obama-administration proposal that a federal judge blocked, and it needs approval only from a Democrat-majority agency board.

Calling Mr. Wolf's proposal “legally questionable at best and downright authoritarian at worst,” the Commonwealth Foundation's Nathan Benefield says it “ignores the laws of economics. Gov. Wolf can no more mandate that every Pennsylvania worker earn more money than he can mandate that every family has a pet unicorn.”

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry chief Gene Barr says it will mean higher business costs, “more burdensome record keeping, less flexibility, a rigid work schedule and fewer training opportunities,” with no guarantee of higher pay for workers “shifted to hourly and restricted from working over 40 hours in a week” as a result.

Mr. Benefield notes that there's “no benefit to mandated overtime pay if your hours get cut.” And as he says, Wolf's proposal is another example of state government “erecting even higher obstacles to overcome” rather than “breaking down government barriers to job creation.”

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