State Sen. Melissa Agard
Press Release

Democrats Introduce Bill to Support Working Families, Increase Minimum Wage to $15

Legislation introduced today would increase Wisconsin’s minimum wage, tie minimum wage to inflation

By - Nov 17th, 2017 11:49 am

MADISON – Today State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) and State Senator Bob Wirch (D-Somers) announced LRB-0287, a bill that would increase Wisconsin’s minimum wage to $15, index wages to inflation, and allow political subdivisions to enact a local minimum wage.

“With so many families struggling just to get by and the cost of necessities and utilities continuing to rise, we need to take this small step to help them stay afloat,” Wirch said. “Studies have shown those making minimum wage tend to spend nearly all of what they earn, so this increase will provide a boost not just to the families directly affected but to our small businesses and communities, as well.”

The bill introduced today is the second time a bill to increase Wisconsin’s minimum wage to $15. A similar bill was introduced by Sargent and Wirch in 2015. LRB-0287 would increase Wisconsin’s minimum wage to $15 over a five-year period, and following the five-year period, would require the minimum wage to be annually indexed to inflation. The bill also repeals a statutory provision that prohibits cities, villages, towns, and counties from enacting and administering a minimum wage.

“Wisconsin families are working hard every day—working eight hours a day and forty hours a week—and still living in poverty. That’s unacceptable,” said Sargent. “Working middle-income families are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table while Republicans are handing out $3 billion to a foreign corporation like Foxconn—it’s unconscionable. If Republicans can afford to give out corporate giveaways like that, then we can afford to give middle-class Wisconsin families a chance to get ahead.”

A 2016 study conducted by COWS showed one in four Wisconsin workers are working poverty-wage jobs—jobs that are not enough to keep a family of four out of poverty even with full-time, year-round work. Moreover, a 2015 study conducted by Pew Charitable Trusts showed that between 2000 and 2013 Wisconsin saw the largest decline in middle-income households in the entire country.

“We simply have to do more for working families in Wisconsin, and it’s well past time for us to raise the minimum wage to ensure Wisconsinites have adequate, livable wages to be able to support their families,” Sargent concluded.

LRB-0287 is similar to legislation introduced at the federal level by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as well as cities and states across the country. Industry leaders have likewise been moving toward implementing a $15 minimum wage. LRB-0287 is currently being circulated for co-sponsorship until December 1st.

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