Wisconsin rep. introduces bill for $15 minimum wage

WIsconsin Gazette

Wisconsin state Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, on April 28 introduced a measure to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.

“Wisconsin workers are the true profit creators for our economy but barely make enough to make ends meet,” said Sargent in a news release. “Here in Wisconsin we take care of each other, and we believe that if we work hard and play by the rules, we should all have a fighting chance.”

Sargent’s bill comes less than two weeks after workers around on the country protested in solidarity for a minimum wage increase to $15, and were joined by thousands of people from communities in Wisconsin.

“Increasing minimum wage puts money in the pockets of hardworking Wisconsinites, which allows increased consumer spending, the creation of more jobs, and the saving of taxpayer dollars,” Sargent said. “It’s a win-win.”

She continued, “People are struggling to stay in the middle class and provide for their families. We need an economy that works for all of us, and we know that we do better when we all do better. We’ve got to start having our workers’ backs, and that starts with raising the wage.”

State Rep. Lisa Subeck, also a Democrat from Madison, joined Sargent in pushing to raise the minimum wage. Subeck said, “It is unconscionable that you can work a full-time job and still live in poverty. Full-time minimum wage workers struggle to support their families while earning less than $300 per week. These hardworking families need and deserve a raise.” 

A Center on Wisconsin Strategy report, published in collaboration with the Economic Policy Institute, found that in 2013 the poverty wage was $11.36 per hour. In 2013, one of four Wisconsin workers —  more than 700,000 people — earned below poverty wage.

“We need a minimum wage that compensates workers fairly and ensures hardworking families earn enough to pay the bills and put food on the table,” said Subeck. “Low-wage workers provide significant profits for their employers yet earn too little to adequately provide for their own families’ basic needs.” 

Thirteen states raised the minimum wage at the start of 2014. The Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the rate of job growth in states that raised the minimum wage met or surpassed job growth in states that have failed to raise wages.

In concert with the introduction of the bill, Wisconsin Jobs Now launched a petition campaign to raise the minimum wage.