Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and his allies in the state legislature added a slew of provisions to the state’s budget proposal late last week, including language that would cut out the term “living wage” from state law and replace it with “minimum wage.” That change could be significant for low-wage workers in the state, some of whom are suing the state government on the grounds that the current minimum wage does not qualify as a living wage in the state.
The focus on the provisions last week was originally aimed at a change to open records laws in the state that would cut access to public records. However, the governor and Republicans in the legislature backtracked on the attempt over the weekend.
The minimum wage in Wisconsin is $7.25. Walker is a likely 2016 candidate for president.
“I am a hard-working man. It’s disgusting that these Republicans would rather force me to feed my son with food stamps instead of standing up to their corporate lobbyist friends,” Corneil White, a fast-food worker and one plaintiff in the lawsuit over wages, told Think Progress. White and almost 100 other low-wage workers filed the complaint in court saying they often had to go without adequate healthcare, food and shelter as a result of the low pay.
Last October, the Walker administration took a look at the living wage standard in the state and deemed the minimum wage to be adequate. A review of documents of the ruling obtained by International Business Times showed that the study saying the $7.25 minimum wage was adequate in meeting living wage standards was largely based on findings provided by the restaurant industry in the state.
Walker is expected to announce his candidacy after the state budget battle comes to an end. He frequently polls toward the top of the Republican primary field. Legislators in Madison are expected to vote on the budget as early as Tuesday.
Other provisions added include restricting access to certain information in officer-involved deaths, a provision that allows employees to opt in to working seven days in a row without a day off and a change that would allow more lead to be in paint before it is considered unsafe.