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Democrats Circulate Bill To Raise Minimum Wage To $15 Per Hour

Measure Would Have To Win Support In GOP-Controlled Legislature

Shamane Mills/WPR

Democrats are circulating a bill in the state Legislature to double the minimum wage over a five-year period.

A bill authored by Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, and co-sponsored by Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Kenosha, would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It would also index the wage to inflation and allow municipalities to set local wage floors.

Sargent admits the bill may be “a tall mountain to climb” with a Republican-controlled Legislature, but she noted that other states have raised wages for their lowest-paid workers, as have some companies.

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“It is a movement that is growing,” said Sargent. “Our private sector is responding to this. We’ve seen McDonald’s and Wal-Mart and other businesses out there raising their wages based on voices of these people.”

This latest effort to boost pay follows an unsuccessful attempt last year to force Gov. Scott Walker to raise the minimum wage based on a century-old state law requiring a living wage.

Currently 29 states and the District of Columbia have an hourly minimum wage above $7.25.

A study commissioned by Wisconsin Restaurant Association last year predicted job losses if the wage were to be raised to $10.10.