Minimum wage debate heats up in Wisconsin

MADISON (WITI) -- A national debate over the minimum wage started a year ago when President Obama called for an increase to $9 an hour in his State of the Union speech -- but with the fighting over sequesters and shutdowns, the issue gained little traction in Congress.

The issue has played out state to state as fast food and other low-wage workers have staged protests for higher wages. Now the debate over Wisconsin's minimum wage is heating up. Governor Scott Walker is coming out against an increase while democrats are proposing a bill to raise wages.

"People can't survive on the minimum wage in Wisconsin under Walker's leadership," said Mike Tate, Chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. "He's out hobnobbing with CEO's. He's not worrying about what the average Wisconsin family is going through, when they're sitting down at the kitchen table saying which bill can we afford to pay this month, and which one can't we? Because we're not making enough money and the jobs that we need to be here aren't here."

Governor Walker said, "I'm focused on jobs, I'm not focused on political stunts. That's what Mike Tate and others are focused on -- getting headlines. I'm focused on helping people get jobs that pay far more than the minimum wage."

Democratic Representative Cory Mason of Racine proposed a new bill that would raise Wisconsin's minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

"What we're saying is work is worth some dignity," said Rep. Mason. "You shouldn't be below poverty if you're working full-time, year-round."

"You don't get that by forcing businesses to drive out young workers like I was when I started out as a kid at McDonald's," said Gov. Walker. "You do that by creating jobs in manufacturing and health care and information technology -- jobs that will pay far and above what the minimum wage is and even what some are proposing."

Wisconsin's minimum wage is set at the federal level and has not been raised since 2009.