If you are an enjoyer of weekends and you live in Wisconsin, man do I have bad news for you. Over the Fourth of July weekend, eventual presidential candidate Scott Walker and Wisconsin State Senate Republicans quietly passed a controversial state budget.
The budget reads like a Sean Hannity fever dream. There are provisions that exempt police from disclosing information when they shoot people if they feel “the harm outweighed the public’s right to know,” new teaching requirements that allow for high school drop outs to teach in public schools — they even tried to sneak in a provision that would have barred the press and the public from accessing records on how legislation is made. (They have since walked that last one back.)
To top it all off, the budget contains new provisions that change the definition of a living wage to a minimum wage, and adds language that guts the guarantee that workers are awarded one day of rest for every seven consecutive days of work.
The change in wage and labor laws come on the heels of a lawsuit filed by a group of low-income workers who claim that the current state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not a living wage.
The move is seen by many as a way to preempt possible legal challenges that are being argued in places like New York, where workers are arguing that the states minimum wage is not, in fact, a “livable” wage. Without livable wage language, low-wage workers in Wisconsin would have no mechanism to sue for higher wages.
We won’t raise your wages, but to make it up to you we will just get rid of the weekend so you can get some extra hours in before the pay period ends. Sound good?
The budget will be debated in the legislature and, if passed, will go to Governor Walker for his signature. Walker is also expected to announce the launch of his 2016 presidential campaign soon.