Lawmakers introduce plan to raise minimum wage to $15/hour in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. — Democrats in the Wisconsin State Legislature are once again calling for a raise in the state’s minimum wage.

State Senator Melissa Agard and Representative Lisa Subeck of Madison and others introduced the plan Thursday morning. It calls for a gradual increase to $15 per hour from the state’s current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour — what would be the first raise in the state’s minimum wage in more than a decade.

“$15 is not too much,” Agard said at a news conference Thursday. “$15 should be a floor, not a ceiling.”

Agard says the $15 minimum would be the tide that lifts everyone up, putting more money into a recovery economy and getting more people off government assistance.

“Increasing wages will pull people out of poverty, it will put more money into our economy and into our Main Streets through increased spending,” Agard said.

Wisconsin’s minimum wage is the same as Iowa’s and Indiana’s, but lags behind other Midwestern states. Minnesota’s current minimum wage is adjusted for inflation and is $10.08 per hour for large employers and $8.21 for small employers. Illinois’ minimum wage is $11 per hour, but is $13 per hour in Cook County and $14 per hour in the city of Chicago.

Democrats argue Wisconsin’s lagging minimum wages are costing the state workers, especially near state lines, saying many people may be choosing to take jobs in Minnesota and Illinois because their income floors would be higher.

The proposal to increase the minimum wage comes as many businesses say they are having trouble hiring enough workers. However, Wisconsin Republicans have resisted calls to increase the minimum wage as part of their plans to promote hiring, choosing instead to vote to end additional unemployment payments. Republicans argue businesses are free to raise their own starting wages without a statewide increase.