Walker criticizes Burke on minimum wage

Mary Burke (D), left, and Scott Walker (R)
Mary Burke (D), left, and Scott Walker (R)

MADISON - The debate about whether to raise the minimum wage has entered the state's governor race.

Democratic challenger Mary Burke is taking the party line hoping to raise the minimum wage by almost $3 an hour. It's something Governor Walker and other Republicans oppose.

"Basically $7.25 an hour insures dependence on government assistance,” said Burke.

Walker said Burke had no basis for that statement.

“That's what happens when you don't have a jobs plan,” said Walker. “You pretend to have one by pointing to something like that."

Burke says she'll have a job plan in the next month or two, in plenty of time for voters to understand it.

In the meantime, Burke is emphasizing she's with other Democrats who want the state minimum wage to go up 40 percent from $7.25 to $10.10.

"I've looked at the data from states where the minimum wage is higher than the federal wage and the reality is that raising the minimum wage does not have an adverse effect on job creation,” said Burke.

Right now, both the state and federal minimums are $7.25.

Economics professor Sandra Odorzynski of St. Norbert College says there are studies supporting both sides.

“Some studies show minimum wage doesn't increase unemployment, other studies show that it does, so there's conflicting advice and research on the parts of economists, but no one would argue that raising the minimum wage would increase jobs and decrease unemployment,” said Odorzynski.

A January poll from Marquette University Law School showed 62 percent of Wisconsin residents favor raising the minimum wage. But most people said it should be no more than $9 an hour.

“I think the best way to raise wages in this state is to help employers to create more jobs, more opportunity that far surpass the amounts that people are talking about in terms of a government mandate,” said Walker.

Walker says he'll announce his jobs plan for a second term this spring.