UpFront: State Sen. Harris calls for minimum wage increase

State Sen. Nikiya Harris called upon the Legislature to consider an increase in the minimum wage, saying on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha” it will boost the economy and help low-wage employees make ends meet.

The Milwaukee Democrat applauded minimum wage workers who nationwide and in Wisconsin have staged walk offs and rallies to draw attention to the issue.

“I think it’s great for workers to stand up and fight for a fair wage, just to take care of basic needs,” Harris said on the program, produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

While she said the workers’ calls to double the minimum wage are reasonable, the amount of any proposed increase would have to be negotiated with majority Republicans.

Harris said a bill that would raise the state minimum wage to $7.60 per hour from the current $7.25 an hour rate should be reconsidered and discussed with businesses and advocacy groups.

“Studies have shown that a modest increase does boost the economy as well as create and spur job creation,” Harris said.

Harris cited a recent public opinion poll that found 50 percent of constituents in Republican-controlled districts and 70 percent in Democratic-controlled districts support raising the minimum wage to at least nine dollars. She said the increase would help workers cover basic living expenses.

Harris was critical of large national companies like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, saying they can afford to pay workers more and that taxpayers are ultimately subsiding the companies by providing social services to their workers.

“They have the money to give their employees a modest increase at least,” said Harris. “Right now taxpayers are footing the bill for corporations; these are taxpayers’ dollars that are put into those social service programs that low wage workers are taking advantage of.”

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