The state minimum wage was just increased to $6.50 an hour. This will affect some 200,000 Wisconsin workers that currently work for the minimum wage. As Xoff has already said, the Republicans in the state Legislature fought this raise through the whole process. Cities like Madison, Milwaukee, and others were able to put some pressure on the Legislature by raising their own minimum wage and actually helped to force a compromise.
Although the raise to $6.50 is better than Wisconsin’s previous minimum wage (and obviously better than the paltry $5.15 from the Federal government), I’m not sure it was worth the price that the Democrats had to pay to get it done. By adding what is called a pre-emption law to the current increase, Republicans were able to keep cities from raising it higher than the state in the future. That is a big loss in my mind.
Government at all levels have been forcing more families off of public assistance and into low paying jobs. Even when these workers put in a full-time week of work, the typical family is barely above or even below the poverty threshold. Even with this current raise, a full-time worker only earns a pathetic $13,520 a year. So that is $260 a week? Are you kidding me? Now what if you have a child and you are a single parent? What if the big corporation that you work for does not provide a good health plan and you get sick? How do you pay for your most basic needs on this kind of money, much less save anything? I’d like to see some of these wise cracking righties live on this new minimum wage for a few months. It would certainly be an illuminating experience.
The only real way to have a minimum wage that actually helps is to index it for inflation. Even if you periodically raise it, but costs keep rising faster, then you are continually losing ground. You are accomplishing little and will never catch up to the most basic cost of living. What good is that? Exactly how does that help? Increases in the minimum wage have been eaten up quickly by inflation. This clearly shows us that a simple raise will not do much for those earning the lowest wages.
I can already hear the naysayers making the tired worn out claim that raising the minimum wage will cause job loss. Repeat this all you like, but your harder task is to prove it. What happened after the last Federal minimum wage increase in 1996/97? Let me give you a hint, there was NOT a job loss.
How can anyone that claims to value hard work sit by and watch hard workers live in poverty? We keep hearing that Republicans have a lock on “values.” What values are those exactly? Surely many of you have heard the Bible passage, “a workman is worthy of his wages” haven’t you? Do you really believe that? I do, and that is why I support a minimum wage that can actually sustain a family.