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Milwaukee County Residents Set to Vote on Minimum Wage Hike

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Milwaukee County residents will vote November 4th on much more than who should be governor. Voters statewide will see a question about amending the constitution to restrict how leaders can spend transportation money. Then, at least four non-binding referenda will appear on the ballot here. Today we review the question that will gauge voter sentiment on the minimum wage.

Milwaukee County is one of a number communities that will ask voters whether they want Wisconsin to boost its minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. County Supervisor Khalif Rainey introduced the referendum here.

“Well it was important to me that the people of Milwaukee County, the residents have a voice in how we treat lower income working families. It’s a chance for the people to speak out and for us to listen, and most importantly, us in Milwaukee County being the biggest county here in Wisconsin, sending a message to our state legislature that this is something that we want to see enacted and we want to see it enacted immediately,” Rainey says.

Polls have shown that most Wisconsin residents favor a boost in the minimum wage. It has remained the same since 2010. Rainey says he takes his cues from constituents, even though he knows some people argue his referendum is unnecessary. One of them is Scott Manley. He’s vice president of Government Relations for the business group, Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce. 

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. could lose a half-million jobs, if the minimum wage goes up to $10.10 an hour. Manley says around five-percent of those eliminated positions would be in Wisconsin.

“What would ultimately happen is wage costs would go up. And employers are likely to respond to those higher costs by either cutting back hours for workers, cutting jobs themselves, raising their prices or a combination of all the above. So we see a significant wage increase as has been proposed at $10.10 an hour as really creating less economic opportunity,” Manley says.

Manley says the amount of money someone is paid should be based on their skills and the value they bring to a company.

As for the candidates for governor, incumbent Scott Walker says his focus is on creating jobs that pay much more than minimum wage. Democrat Mary Burke supports raising the floor.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
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