STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) -- Many central Wisconsin voters can expect to find at least one or more referendums on the upcoming November election ballot. Portage County will have an advisory referendum asking voters if the State of Wisconsin should increase the minimum wage from $7.25 up to $10.10 per hour. Another advisory referendum will ask voters if they want Wisconsin to accept additional federal Medicaid dollars to apply towards Badgercare, to allow for more people to be covered in that program.
Democratic State Representative Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point has long argued that Governor Scott Walker should have accepted the Medicaid dollars, and she’s hoping voters send Madison a message to reverse his decision to refuse those dollars. “Not only would accepting the Badgercare expansion save us 100 billion dollars in taxpayer money that we are currently paying to cover fewer adults, but it would also create 10,000 jobs, so you know it makes a lot of economic sense. It also just makes sense from a health care premium standpoint, so I really support that.”
Several counties are considering the same advisory referendums, and Shankland says the question is already on the ballot in a few of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. “St. Croix County became the tenth county a couple of days ago, and many more have this passed through their county committees and are now going to the full county board. I know our friends in Wood County are taking up both the Badgercare and the minimum wage referenda on the same day as Portage County.”
Shankland also supports the other advisory referendum asking Legislators and the Governor to increase the minimum wage. She believes raising the minimim wage would both help workers support themselves and their families, and would save tax dollars. “Just from a subsidy standpoint, when a large corporation pays $7.25 an hour to a hard working individual who is one of their employees, they also have to give them a food stamp application, a Badgercare application, an energy assistance application, so essentially what our tax dollars are doing right now are subsidizing the companies that refuse to pay a living wage to their employees.”
If the minimum wage goes up, Shankland says it would not drastically affect most workers who are already above $10.10, but it would give raises to about 587,000 Wisconsin workers.