State News

As U.S. House passes new bill, Wisconsin Democrats propose similar minimum wage increase

Wisconsin’s minimum wage hasn’t increased since 2009, but the proposal — led partly by Rep. Greta Neubaeur — is likely to face debate between Democrats and Republicans. 

Wisconsin’s minimum wage hasn’t increased since 2009, but the proposal — led partly by Rep. Greta Neubaeur — is likely to face debate between Democrats and Republicans. 

Image By: Courtesy of Wisconsin State Legislature

Thirty Wisconsin Democrats have proposed a state-wide minimum wage increase to $15, matching the nationwide proposal passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The proposal would steadily increase Wisconsin’s minimum wage from the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to $15 over the course of the next five years, adjusting every year to account for inflation.

The proposal would also increase the minimum wage for tipped employees. If the proposal succeeds, tipped employees — like servers in the restaurant industry — would earn the same minimum wage as everyone else. Currently, Wisconsin’s tipped employees earn $4.92 per hour, as compared to the federal level of $2.13. 

A similar change was pushed by Wisconsin Democrats in 2012; however, with a Republican-controlled legislature, the new bill probably has little chance of seeing enactment in Wisconsin.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has already criticized the proposal saying it’s “all about politics,” and pointed out that Wisconsin’s wages are growing quickly compared to other states in the U.S. 

Rep. Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, one of the leaders behind the proposal, disagrees with Vos. 

“It’s time to step up and raise the floor for working families in our community,” Neubauer said.

Based on research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a living wage in Wisconsin far exceeds the current minimum wage. For a single adult without children, a living wage sits at $11.40 per hour. For a two-parent household with one working parents and one child, that number essentially doubles for those with a child at $22.76 per hour. 

Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, said the state should raise its “outdated” minimum wage to make sure working Wisconsinites can have better financial security.

“Our state needs fair wages to give working families a chance to get ahead, to create a fairer society for all of us, and to recognize and support the dignity of workers,” Sargent said in a statement.

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