WisBusiness: Madison Council to Consider Minimum Wage Hike Tonight

The Madison City Council is set to take up a measure tonight to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.75 despite a bill that is now before Gov. Jim Doyle that wouldn’t allow cities or local governments to set a minimum wage higher than the state. Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz backs the increase.

Doyle wouldn’t say whether he would approve or veto Assembly Bill 633 at a bill signing yesterday. But he did say the minimum wage must be raised, as recently recommended by his Minimum Wage Advisory Council. That plan would raise the minimum wage in two steps to $6.50 by October 2005.

“The minimum wage should go up, and I really want to get this done in a way that it goes up all over the state of Wisconsin,” Doyle said. “And my preference is that we not have isolated, different minimum wages around the state, but on the other hand, I can understand that if it’s down at $5.15 and we’re not going to get it to go up in the near future, then local governments are going to have to do what they’re going to do.”

Regarding Madison’s vote, Doyle said he was “watching how things develop.”

Meanwhile, the measure approved by the minimum wage council has to go through the administrative rules process. Department of Workforce Development Roberta Gassman has not yet issued the rule, which would then face approval by the Legislature’s labor and possibly, administrative rules, committees.

Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend and chairman of the Joint Committee of Administrative Rules, could move to block an increase by suspending the rule to stop it from going into effect. Whether he plans to do so remains unclear.

Grothman told WisPolitics Monday his main problem with the increase is that neighboring states Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan all have $5.15 minimum wages.

“Why on earth would business lobbyists negotiate a deal to go to $6.50 an hour in Wisconsin?” Grothman said. “…It’s hard to believe our business lobbyists are that much worse than surrounding states.”

Grothman agreed with Doyle that having different minimum wages would be problematic. “I think the governor knows it’s foolishness to have 200 different minimum wages around the state and any increase in the minimum wage should be handled on a statewide basis.”

Asked whether he could foresee negotiating a figure between $5.15 and $6.50, Grothman said: “I’d certainly be able to negotiate something in between. I’m easygoing.”