(5/21/14) Voters in Eau Claire County will be asked to weigh in on two simmering issues this fall.
The County Board voted last night to place referendums on the November ballot, asking if the state's minimum wage should be raised -- and whether Wisconsin should start taking federal Medicaid funds to help more low-income residents get Badger-Care. Eau Claire supervisors also urged the state to raise alcohol taxes, to help those battling alcohol problems. Lawmakers of both parties have refused for years to touch those taxes.
State Democrats tried but failed in the last session to gradually jack up the minimum wage from 7.25-an-hour to 10.10. Supervisor Nick Smiar said today's minimum wage is what it was in the 1960's, when inflation's added in. Also, he said about half of all U-S jobs pay no more than the minimum wage, in the wake of the Great Recession. Supervisor Mike Conlin agreed with many Republicans who say an increase would be a job-killer. On Medicaid, Supervisor Colleen Bates said Wisconsin pays more in federal taxes than it gets back -- so folks are paying for other states to get the increased Medicaid funds that Governor Scott Walker rejected. Walker said the Medicaid funding could run dry, leaving state taxpayers with billions in extra health costs.