FOX47 NEWS - Minimum Wage Increase Proposed

Jeff Angileri
Feb 15, 2009, 6:52 PM

In the midst of a recession, the Wisconsin legislature is considering raising the state's minimum wage from $6.50 an hour to $7.60 an hour.

Wisconsin is one of only six states in the U.S. -- Minnesota, Kansas, Wyoming, Arkansas, Georgia -- to have a minimum wage lower than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

We need some catching up, said state representative Gary Hebl, (D) District 46. We need to protect our employees -- certainly not at a strong deficit to the employers, but to put everyone on a level playing field.

The Department of Workforce Development expects 225,000 people will be affected if the bill becomes law.

These people work very hard, Hebl said. They're single parent families in a lot of cases, and we need to do something to help them out.

Many republicans and a variety of business groups oppose the increase, which they say would put more people out of work and hurt companies that can't afford to pay higher wages.

Unlike the government, we have to maintain a profit or we don't exist, said Tom Linscott, owner of Gilles Custard in Milwaukee.

Linscott says a higher minimum wage would end up hurting his higher paid and more experienced workers.

It increases my training costs on the inexperienced employees coming in the door. What it does is makes it more difficult in the pool of money to provide for my key people -- to maintain their benefits and increase their insurance and things of that sort, he said.

In addition to the initial wage jump, there would also be annual increases adjusted to inflation.

If the assembly decides to pass the bill, and Governor Doyle signs it, the new wage would take effect on June first.

Wisconsin workers last saw a minimum wage increase in 2006. All the business owners we spoke with in Madison told us they already offer wages above the proposed minimum wage.

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