Voters to Weigh in on Minimum Wage
June 30, 2014
County Board First Vice Chair Carousel Bayrd, 608.658.7333
November ballot in Dane County will ask whether state should raise minimum to $10.10
The Dane County Board of Supervisors on Thursday approved a resolution placing the question, “Should the State of Wisconsin increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour?” on the November ballot.
“We can not expect Dane County, Wisconsin, or the nation to thrive and recover from the current economic downturn if people working full time jobs do not earn enough money to survive—to feed and house themselves, let alone their children and families,” the resolution reads in part.
"Dane County is joining dozens of other communities across Wisconsin to let our state elected leaders know that we must raise the minimum wage in Wisconsin," said Supervisor Carousel Bayrd, the lead sponsor of the referendum resolution. "Wisconsinites who work a full days work deserve enough money to support themselves and their families. Under the current minimum wage, it is impossible for full time Dane County workers to feed and house themselves. We should be ashamed of that. I am confident that Dane County voters, and voters across Wisconsin, will support an increase in the minimum wage, to give all working families and chance to survive and thrive in Wisconsin."
"Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour will lift thousand of Wisconsinites out of poverty and reduce reliance on government programs,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan. “This referendum essentially asks Dane County voters if they want to stop subsidizing businesses who pay their workers so little that those workers must rely on government assistance to survive."
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said the referendum is not likely to increase the cost of conducting the November election.
The text of the resolution is below.
REFERENDUM ON INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE IN WISCONSIN
The current minimum wage in Wisconsin is $7.25/ hour. With that wage, a full-time worker with a 40-hour a week job earns $15,080 a year.
On that salary, a resident of Dane County cannot afford the basic fundamental needs of housing and food. According to a 2014 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a 1-bedroom apartment in Dane County, one must earn $14.27/hour, double the state’s hourly minimum wage amount.
Dane County has serious racial disparity issues. Individuals working minimum wages jobs in Dane County are disproportionately minority. According to the Race to Equity – Racial Disparities in Dane County Report, released in October of 2013 by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, 54% of African American Dane County residents earn poverty wages or less, compared to 8.7% of white. African American children in Dane County are 13 times more likely to be growing up in a family in poverty than while children.
The United States is experiencing an unprecedented rise in income inequality between its highest paid and minimum wage workers. According to the Pew Research Center, America’s current income inequality is the highest it has been since the 1920s, just before and during the great depression. The top 10% of Americans earn 80% of the national wealth. The top 1% earns 24% of the wealth. The average CEO in America earns 380 times more than the average worker, let alone a minimum wage worker.
If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, since 1968, it would be nearly $11/hour today. If the minimum wage had kept pace with worker productivity, since 1968, it would be nearly $20/hour today. If the minimum wage kept pace with the growth of wealth for the top 1% of the United States, since 1968, it would be nearly $29/hour today.
Dane County, Wisconsin, and the United States will not recover from the current economic downturn if full time workers do not earn enough money to survive—to feed and house themselves, their children and their families.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research has found that an increase in the minimum wage does not decrease the number of available jobs or negatively impact on the economy and the number of jobs available. Instead, it increases job productivity and decreases work turnover.
Across the nation, workers have been fighting for a $15/hour living wage. This includes workers and unions in Madison, Dane County, and Wisconsin. Increasing the state minimum wage is an essential first step towards ensuring survivable, living wages are paid to workers. Wisconsin’s minimum wage must be increased to reflect a base minimum hourly wage needed to support residing within the state. But, it also must be adjustable for local communities, to reflect the realities of living in areas, such as Dane County, with higher costs of living.
Now, therefore be it resolved, that the following referendum question be placed on the November 2014 ballot:
“Should the State of Wisconsin increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour?”
Be it finally resolved that the Dane County Clerk shall take all necessary steps to implement this resolution.
# # #