State lawmaker wants to increase minimum wage in Wisconsin - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

State lawmaker wants to increase minimum wage in Wisconsin

Eau Claire (WQOW)- A full-time worker here in Wisconsin earning minimum wage makes about $15,000 a year.  That's not enough, according to a local state lawmaker, who is co-sponsoring a bill that would put more money into the pockets of about 300,000 Wisconsinites.

In his State of the Union Address earlier this month, President Obama made headlines when he said he wanted to raise the minimum wage across the country to $9 an hour.

"That would put this economy on steroids," says State Representative Dana Wachs.

Wachs is a co-sponsor of a bill to raise the state's minimum wage from $7.25 to $7.60.

"If you want to stimulate an economy, you make sure people in the middle class have a livable wage," Wachs points out.  "That's what stimulates an economy."

The bill would also tie any future raise to the minimum wage to inflation, getting rid of the need to have lawmakers be involved.  Bob McCoy with the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce doesn't agree with Wachs.

"If I'm an employer, I either have to tell everybody you are working less hours and now the customer waits a little longer; whether it's buying nuts and bolts at the hardware store or a hamburger, or you'll have less people working," McCoy counters.

Wachs brings up countries like Germany and Australia that have high minimum wages and low unemployment numbers as examples of what he would like to see here.

"The small business owner is going to have more customers if people have more buying power," Wachs says.

"To try to compare one country against another country, it is impossible.  The government is different.  The tax structure is different," fights back McCoy.  "You can pay $15 an hour instead of $7 an hour if you want to take 60 percent of it back in tax versus 15 percent."

Wachs says he still needs to gain support for his bill before a vote would be taken.

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