Democrats in the state Legislature are calling for Republicans to hold a hearing on a proposal that would increase Wisconsin’s minimum wage and make it easier to hike pay rates for workers in the future.
The bill from State Senator Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha) was introduced last January, but has yet to receive a hearing in the Senate’s Judiciary and Labor Committee after it was sent there. It would raise Wisconsin’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $7.60 an hour and make any future increases based on inflation.
Wirch joined 25 other Democrats in sending a letter to Republican leaders this week asking them to schedule a public hearing on the bill. The Kenosha Democrat says “I just think this is very important that we put the pressure on now, because there’s not that much time left before the end of the session.”
Lawmakers will return to the Capitol in January, likely wrapping up their two-year session later in the spring.
State Senator Dave Hansen, a Green Bay Democrat, says the minimum wage needs to be increased because it’s already off track from where it should be. He says past increases have not kept up with the cost of living, and tying future rate hikes to inflation would help address the issue. Hansen says “this bill is modest in the amount of the increase, but significant in making a much needed change to the way we approach increasing the minimum wage.”
State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), who chairs the committee the bill was sent to, says he may consider holding a hearing on it before the session ends. The West Bend Republican does oppose the bill though, arguing that it could make it harder for young workers to find the entry level jobs that typically pay the minimum wage. He says making it more expensive for employers to hire those young workers “could have long term ramifications on the workforce.”