Wisconsin Democrats propose hike in minimum wage

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Wisconsin Democrats want to raise the minimum wage.

Democratic lawmakers Cory Mason of Racine, Robert Wirch of Somers, Nikiya Harris of Milwaukee and Eric Genrich of Green Bay are circulating for co-sponsorship a bill that would gradually raise Wisconsin's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and index it to inflation. 

“Wisconsin’s working families deserve a raise,” said Mason in a news release issued on Jan. 9. “More and more of our nation’s wealth is going to the richest few, while the cost of gas and groceries increases, and family income stagnates. It is long past time for those at the bottom of our economic ladder to get a raise.” 

Wisconsin’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. The lawmakers said that an individual working full-time at that wage earns about $15,000 a year, significantly less than the poverty level for a family of four. More than 600,000 Wisconsin workers would benefit from a wage increase to $10.10 per hour. 

Said Wirch, “The reality is that you simply can’t live on the current minimum wage, and the public is starting to recognize that we need to do something. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation over the last 40 years, it would already be over $10 per hour. Sadly, minimum wage workers continue to fall further behind. Studies show that those making minimum wage spend nearly all of what they earn, so the increase will provide a boost not just to those working families, but to our businesses and economy, as well.”

Harris, in the release, said, “It is unacceptable that individuals who work full-time cannot support their families or meet their basic needs.” 

Genrich added, "I'm proud to co-author a reasonable increase in Wisconsin's minimum wage. As a tried-and-true anti-poverty tool, a fair minimum wage will improve the lives of thousands of working Wisconsinites and empower them to support their families without assistance." 

The Democrats hope to introduce legislation next week.

If enacted, Wisconsin’s minimum wage would immediately increase to $8.20 per hour and reach $10.10 per hour two years later. This legislation is similar to the “Fair Minimum Wage Act,” introduced in Congress by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin and U.S. Rep. George Miller.