After a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour fizzled in the Legislature last year, a Wisconsin lawmaker introduced a bill Tuesday that would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Wisconsin’s minimum wage is currently at $7.25 per hour, which is the same as the federal rate. Under the proposal, the state’s minimum wage would more than double from its current rate. Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, the author of the bill, said it was time for the Capitol to have the backs of people in Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin’s hardworking people are really the people that … are barely making enough to make ends meet in the current system,” Sargent said.
If the bill were to pass, the minimum wage would increase to $8.50 per hour on the effective date, and five years after the effective date, the minimum wage would increase to $15 per hour. Future increases would be tied to the consumer price index of past years.
Sargent said raising the minimum wage would boost the economy, giving more money to workers that would then spend the money. Workers would also be more likely to stay at their jobs if they’re paid more, she added.
“With a [higher minimum wage], we will have more economic prosperity, more job security,” Sargent said.
The bill, however, faces little chances of passing, with Republican control of both chambers of the state Legislature.
Bill Smith, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour will place a financial burden on smaller businesses, which are still recovering from the Great Recession.
“Any increase in Wisconsin’s minimum wage will not only add more stress on small businesses but will be passed on to hard-working consumers that are still attempting to economically recover from a very difficult time,” Smith said. “Today’s proposal is short sighted, simplistic and misguided.”
Smith said Sargent’s proposal would also reduce the ability for smaller businesses to hire workers and sustain their workforce.