The state of Wisconsin, including UW-Madison, intends to increase the minimum wage for its hourly employees to $15 an hour, according to statements issued Friday by the university and Gov. Tony Evers.
For university employees, the increase from the current minimum wage of $13.27 per hour, which aligns with the city of Madison’s 2019 living wage, will go into effect in spring 2020. The university can adjust the pay schedules in question under its own authority and does not need approval from the state Legislature, according to UW-Madison spokesman John Lucas.
The wage increase stands to benefit university workers mostly in custodial, animal care and food-service positions. It will not affect temporary or student employees, according to the university.
“The increase in our minimum wage is a key part of our strategy for helping the university recruit and retain high-quality workers,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement. “Employees who will benefit from this increase make important contributions to our teaching, research and outreach missions.”
Raising the minimum wage will cost the university about $1.1 million, which will come from a mix of general purpose and program revenue, Lucas said.
With the state’s proposed compensation plan for 2019-2021, released Friday, Evers is pushing to provide a 2% increase in wages for tens of thousands of state employees in January, and another 2% raise a year later.
Under the plan, all permanent state employees would earn at least $15 an hour by Jan. 3, 2021, with some state workers receiving the increase starting in June.
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Republicans on the state’s budget-writing committee approved the state worker pay increase over the summer. Funding for those raises was included in the 2019-21 state budget, but the specific details still have to be hashed out by the Evers administration and the Legislature.
Evers had previously called for a $15 minimum wage for all state employees as part of his budget proposal, but the Legislature gutted that provision.
“This budget is a step in the right direction on many fronts but importantly, this budget also included investments in one of the state’s most valuable resources — state employees,” Evers said in the announcement.
Evers is also calling for pay raises for state prison guards. The estimated cost of the wage increases for all state employees is about $84 million, of which state taxpayers would be on the hook for nearly $40 million.
According to the Evers administration, part of the cost of the plan related to health insurance exceeds what is set aside in the state’s compensation reserve. All affected agencies “anticipate they will be able to manage costs in excess of the likely pay plan supplements available in the reserve at the end of each fiscal year,” according to an announcement from the Department of Administration.
The wage increase for state employees at the lowest end of the pay scale is not finalized. The plan is subject to approval by the Joint Committee on Employee Relations, which will hold a public hearing on the proposal.
Spokespeople for Republican lawmakers who control the committee did not respond to requests for comment Friday night.