Committee Approves Pay Raises for State Workers

A bipartisan legislative committee unanimously approved pay raises Wednesday for state and University of Wisconsin employees, but Republicans shot down Gov. Tony Evers’ request to raise the minimum wage for state workers to $15 an hour.

The Joint Committee on Employment Relations — made up of six Republicans and two Democrats — approved the 2 percent wage increases for the employees in both 2020 and 2021. Those raises have already been approved by the Legislature’s budget committee.

A proposal to give state troopers retroactive 2 percent pay increases and an over 20 percent starting pay increase did not get a vote at the public hearing Wednesday.

Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association President Chad Thompson said higher pay would help recruitment, which is suffering.  “When I was a new trooper back in 1997, I know Vernon County had five troopers, and today they have one, kind of, who is currently deployed with the military,” Thompson said. “So really, Vernon County has no trooper.”

Members of the committee indicated the troopers aren’t totally out of luck. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told them to come back with a base pay increase in the single digits. “I would be open to giving raises that are significantly higher than the rate of inflation, but not 20-plus percent,” Vos said.