Milw. County supervisor pushes raising county's "living wage"

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Hundreds of workers in Milwaukee County could be getting a major raise under a new proposal.

Milwaukee County Supervisor David Bowen is behind a plan to raise the county's living wage.

"This living wage ordinance is about increasing the quality of life of all of our residents. We are lifting those who make the least among us and creating a new floor of pay at the 100%  line of federal poverty, determined by the federal government," Supervisor Bowen said Monday, December 16th.

Under Sup. Bowen's proposal, county employees and companies that do business within the county would receive $12.45 an hour.

That's an hourly wage that's 110% of the federal poverty line.

The proposal was brought up at a committee meeting on Monday, December 16th, and even if it gets passed by the Milwaukee County Board, it's unlikely to be approved by the county executive.

An analysis by the independent Comptroller found that the Supervisors’ plan could annually cost taxpayers $8.2 million by 2015, rising to $10.3 million by 2019.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele released a statement on Monday on this issue, reading:

“I agree with Supervisors that more needs to be done across the country to address poverty, but this goal should not come at a cost to Milwaukee's competitiveness or taxpayers.

As the Comptroller’s analysis shows, this mandate will cost taxpayers millions of dollars, thousands of jobs, and ultimately risks the County's important safety net services that help the most vulnerable members of our community.

I invite Supervisors to consider broader action to address poverty that doesn't undermine Milwaukee's fragile economy, such as joining me and other Democratic leaders in pushing for an increase in the state and federal minimum wage.”