MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker lashed out Thursday against Democratic proposals to raise the minimum wage, calling them a “political grandstanding stunt” that will kill jobs.
Walker was addressing a friendly crowd at a meeting of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, a group that opposes increasing the minimum wage. Democrats both nationally and in Wisconsin and other states are pushing for increasing it.
The proposal is going nowhere in Wisconsin, where Republicans who control the Senate and Assembly have it bottled up in committee. But that didn’t stop Walker from speaking out against the idea.
“I think it is nothing more than a misguided political stunt,” he said of Democrats’ efforts to raise the wage. Doing that will only lead to the elimination of entry-level jobs and cut pay for other workers, Walker said.
“If you want to put a buzz saw on the economic recovery we’ve seen in this state, you just start piling on regulations like increasing the minimum wage,” Walker said. Later, he called it “little more than a political grandstanding stunt” advanced by people who want to claim they’re helping workers when they’re really not.
The sponsor of one bill that would increase the wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour said Walker is out of touch with reality.
“If he really thinks that raising wages for people making minimum wage is a political stunt, then he shouldn’t be governor,” said state Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine. “If he’s really that out of touch with where people are who are struggling to get by in this state, he shouldn’t be governor.”
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson, of Milwaukee, echoed Mason’s comments, saying Walker was being insensitive to minimum wage workers struggling to get by.
“The minimum wage is the first step on the path to the American dream and I support those who are fighting for the economic freedom and prosperity in their community,” Larson said.
Walker’s Democratic challenger in the governor’s race, former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive Mary Burke, said she supports legislation there to increase the minimum wage by a relatively modest 35 cents an hour to $7.60.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey in December found that more than six in 10 voting-age adults said they would support an increase of the federal minimum wage from $7.25, where it was last raised in 2009, to $10.10 an hour. A CBS News poll in November found that just one in four would like the federal minimum wage to remain at $7.25.