Lieutenant Governor Lawton Urges Republican Lawmakers to Increase State’s Minimum Wage

Larry J. Martin, Office of the Lieutenant Governor, 608-266-3516

Wisconsin’s Minimum Wage Has Not Been Raised in Seven Years;
Increase Overwhelmingly Supported by Both Business and Labor

GREEN BAY – At a news conference at the Brown County Job Center in Green Bay
today, Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton urged Republican lawmakers to
approve a long overdue increase in the state’s minimum wage. The increase is
supported unanimously by business and labor representatives on a Minimum
Wage Advisory Council appointed by Governor Jim Doyle. Only two members of
the Council voted against the increase – both Republican lawmakers.

“Wisconsin’s minimum wage has not been increased since 1997. Too many
people working at the minimum wage are still struggling to make ends meet,”
said the Lieutenant Governor, who was joined at the event by Senator Dave
Hansen, a member of the Advisory Council, and business, labor, and community
leaders. “These workers have not received a raise in seven years. It is
time to give these hard working families the raise they deserve and have

Earlier this year, at the direction of the Governor, the Department of
Workforce Development (DWD) advanced an administrative rule that would
increase the hourly minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $5.70 this year and
$6.50 next year. The two-step increase will benefit an estimated 200,000
Wisconsin citizens working minimum wage or low wage jobs, many of them
single mothers, who are turning increasingly to food pantries to help feed
their children.

A few Republican lawmakers have used their positions of power to block the
first increase in seven years, said the Lieutenant Governor. In late July,
Senator Tom Reynolds of West Allis, chairman of the Senate Labor Committee,
abruptly put the rule to a vote without a public hearing. The committee
objected to the rule on a 3-2 party-line vote.

On Thursday, the Legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative
Rules will decide whether to let the increase take effect, or join the
Senate Labor Committee in objecting to the DWD rule.

“On Thursday, Republican legislators will choose between helping those
hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin citizens working at the minimum wage, or
joining extreme Republicans in blocking this long-overdue increase,”
Lieutenant Governor Lawton said. “I would hope that these lawmakers would
choose to stand behind the working poor.”

An estimated 200,000 Wisconsin citizens currently work in minimum wage or
low wage jobs. While many are young people, nearly half are over 25 years
of age. Nearly two out of every three are women. More often than not, they
are single parents, struggling to support themselves and their children.
And, while many are part-time workers, almost one-third work full time at
the minimum wage.

“An increase in the minimum wage will help these hard working citizens
better provide for themselves and their families,” Lt. Governor Lawton said.
“A working mother, after putting in a full day’s work, should not have to go
to a food pantry to feed her kids because she’s not earning enough to make
ends meet. We must raise the minimum wage.”