Wis. Dems propose bill to raise WI minimum wage by $3

MADISON (WITI) -- A new proposal would raise Wisconsin's minimum wage by nearly $3. The debate centers around whether this would help struggling workers or hurt struggling businesses.

Wisconsin Democrats have proposed the bill that would raise the minimum wage in Wisconsin for the first time in 12 years.

"Low wage workers are continuing to struggle," Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) said.

Mason says the bill would raise Wisconsin's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.

"$10.10 is something that's fair, it's modest. We could pass this bill tomorrow and there would still be seven states that still have higher minimum wages," Rep. Mason said.

Republicans have long held that increasing the minimum wage could end up hurting the people it's intended to help, by causing employers to scale back hours and perhaps even workers.

"That will have a huge impact on small businesses, more worker training, giving everybody an opportunity to succeed," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said.

"On the contrary, the municipalities and jurisdictions that have raised the minimum wage have actually seen an increase in their economy and actually seen jobs created, not lost," Rep. Mason said.

However, Assembly Speaker Vos made it clear the issue will not be on the agenda while he controls the legislative calendar.

"I'm not a big supporter of artificially increasing the minimum wage.  I think the marketplace is a much better way to go," Vos said.

Fast food and other low-wage workers have staged protests for higher wages.

57-year-old fast food worker Darnell Summers of Milwaukee says the wage hike would keep him afloat.

"Keep my head above water so I can breathe, because right now I'm just drowning," Summers said.

The Democrats' push for a minimum wage will likely get some push back from Republicans at the Capitol. Governor Scott Walker was recently asked if he favored a minimum wage on a national news program. His answer was as clear as it was concise: "No" is what he said.