Capitol Report – A tale of two cities, if not states

By State Representative, Leon D. Young

Leon D. Young

Leon D. Young

As the 2013-14 legislative session winds down, Assembly Republicans have been busy at work ramming through a torrent of pet bills and initiatives, which will have calamitous consequences for far too many residents of our state.

Case in point, the passage of Assembly Bill 750 last week that would limit “living wage” laws for local government workers and government contractors.

Under this particular bill, local minimum wage ordinances would only be in effect if no money from the state was used to pay the workers.

Without question, this proposal would greatly diminish laws already in place for the city of Milwaukee, Madison, Dane County and one approved earlier this month for Milwaukee County but not yet enacted.

More specifically, the Milwaukee County ordinance would set minimum wage at $11.32 an hour.

The figure is tied to the federal poverty level for a family of four.

Opponents of the ordinance, which include Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), insist that this living wage proposal would damage the county’s Family Care program and would mean fewer hours of service in that program.

Besides trampling on the ability of local units of government to make their own decision regarding this issue, a cadre of 2,400 personal care attendants, who work with elderly and disabled people, would be the main beneficiaries of the county wage ordinance.

In other parts of the country, however, there appears to be a concerted effort to take on the income inequality gap. Local officials in Washington and in Boston, New Haven, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle have all seized on to this particular issue.

New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, has charted a robust liberal agenda to revive this urban metropolis.

The cornerstone of this endeavor will be pressing for a higher local minimum wage.

Mayor de Blasio and the City Council plan on working to expand New York’s “living wage” law to cover tens of thousands of workers whose employers receive city subsidies.

These efforts to bolster the minimum wage laws around the country are a stark contrast to what’s happening here in Wisconsin.

The governor’s recently passed tax cut plan will provide substantially more tax relief for higher income individuals, while refusing to make any concessions to bolster the minimum wage.

The wealthy in this country continue to receive a larger piece of the income pie, while the middle class is losing ground and the poor are stuck in place.

The income inequality gap is not only a tale of two cities; it’s also a tale of two different states … of mind.