Last night, in a vote 15-7, the Kenosha County Board voted to put on the November ballot a referendum asking the voters if Wisconsin should raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
(Click the picture for the wording of the referendum)
Allowing citizens the opportunity to weigh in on these vital public policy issues achieves the (small "d") democratic value of ensuring that the people be heard. Citizen Action of Wisconsin strongly supports this referendum and encourages other localities (county, cities villages etc) to give their citizens the chance to vote on important issues such as this.
Introduced by Supervisor Mike Goebel, the Kenosha County wage referendum asks the simple question: "Should the State of Wisconsin increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour?"
While numerous Wisconsin polls have shown that the public is in strong support of raising the minimum wage (Milwaukee Business Journal, Wisconsin Public Radio), the Kenosha County wage referendum will give the clearest snapshot of where Wisconsin citizens stand on the issue of not just raising the minimum wage, but raising it to $10.10.
The language of the referendum passed this week:
WHEREAS, it is one of our most cherished values that there is dignity in work, and that everyone in Wisconsin should have the opportunity to work their way into the middle class, not fall out of it; and
WHEREAS, we are not short of work ethic in Wisconsin, we are short of good jobs that enable working families to begin to work their way up; and
WHEREAS, Wisconsin workers are working harder and harder for less and less, every year the minimum wage stays the same workers take a pay cut, and wages are now so low that millions of full time workers are below the poverty line and qualify for food stamps; and
WHEREAS, if people don’t earn enough money to pay for the basics, like food, rent, and transportation, the economy stalls, weakening our communities and damaging local businesses; and
WHEREAS, powerful corporations actively use their influence to hold down wages and benefits, creating economy-busting jobs rather than economy-boosting jobs; and
WHEREAS, nearly 9 in 10 Wisconsin workers who would benefit from a minimum wage increase are 20 years of age or older, nearly two-thirds are women, and 234,000 Wisconsin children would see their families’ income increase; and
WHEREAS, our government’s role is to maintain a wage and benefit floor to guarantee all work is valued, and that no Wisconsin worker is denied an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work; and
WHEREAS, the great American middle class is not something that just happened, we built it brick by brick, and
WHEREAS, a $10.10 minimum wage would bring our wage floor to roughly the same level as it was in the late 1960s, adjusted for inflation; and
WHEREAS, the most important thing we can do to generate shared prosperity and build an economy that works for everyone, not just the powerful, is to create more economy-boosting jobs; and
WHEREAS, a $10.10 minimum wage would raises wages for 587,000 Wisconsin workers by $816 million, and generate over $500 million in additional economic activity in Wisconsin in the next three years, resulting in nearly 4,000 new jobs; and
WHEREAS, it’s time Wisconsin worked again for people who work for a living; and
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that an advisory referendum be placed upon the November 4, 2014 ballot to advise the State of Wisconsin as to the level of support within the Kenosha County population for an increase in the minimum wage; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the advisory referendum read as follows:
Should the State of Wisconsin increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour?
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Corporation Counsel's Office shall fulfill its statutory obligations with respect to drafting an explanation of the above referendum question and that the Clerk be directed to place said question and explanation on the November 4, 2014 ballot.