Gov. Doyle: Republicans Poised to Delay Minimum Wage

Ethnie Groves, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2156

Rule Change Quietly Slipped Into Legislative Calendar

Governor Jim Doyle today criticized Republican legislative
leaders for further delaying a minimum wage increase for Wisconsin workers
by an additional seven months. Republican leaders have quietly put forward
an unprecedented change to their normal legislative calendar that will allow
them to delay voting on the minimum wage until December 2006. That means
the minimum wage increase that workers should have received last year could
be delayed until January 2007.

“It’s deeply disappointing that the very first action taken
by the new Republican Legislature is to attack working people in Wisconsin,”
Governor Doyle said. “They’re against a minimum wage increase but they are
afraid to take a vote on it. Delaying the vote until after the election may
seem like a way to help their campaigns, but it’s going to be very costly
for more than 160,000 Wisconsin workers who earn the minimum wage.”

Governor Doyle noted that the minimum wage increase his
administration has proposed won the support of a spectrum of business and
labor leaders, and the only opposition has come from Republican legislators.
The minimum wage has not been increased for seven years.

“In the last seven years, members of the Legislature have
voted themselves seven pay raises, while workers on the minimum wage have
not gotten any raises,” Doyle said. “Legislators’ pay has gone up by $6,500
over that time, but now Republicans are blocking an increase of just 55
cents for our lowest paid workers.”


Last year, Governor Doyle appointed a Minimum Wage Council
to raise Wisconsin’s minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.50 an hour over
two years. Under a procedure that has been in place since 1919, the
increase was scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2004, but Republican
legislators on September 23, 2004, blocked the wage increase from going

In this legislative session, Republicans will introduce a
bill blocking the minimum wage increase. The increase will take effect once
that bill is either voted down, vetoed, or expires at the end of the
session. Since Republicans have no incentive to ever bring the bill up,
they can delay the minimum wage increase until the bill expires at the end
of the session. Typically, the session ends in May. Last session, for
example, ended May 12, 2004. Republicans have now extended the session
until December 28, 2006, which means another seven months that workers will
not get a raise. The delay is clearly targeted at the minimum wage, since
the extension of the session only applies to bills originating from the
Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules, which has jurisdiction
over minimum wage increases.