Repealing the minimum wage isn’t on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s second term to-do list, but he made it clear Tuesday that he’s not going to defend it either.
Walker appeared Tuesday afternoon at a meeting of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board, where he dodged questions about his stances on abortion, right to work laws, and his proposal to drug test recipients of public assistance.
When asked what he thought of the minimum wage, Walker said, "Well, I'm not going to repeal it, but I don't think it serves a purpose because we're debating then about what the lowest levels are at. I want people to make, like I said the other night, two or three times that."
Most voters see things differently. The most recent Marquette Law School Poll found that 59% of Wisconsinites support raising the minimum wage, while only 36% oppose it. Walker’s Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, who is in a dead heat with Walker, supports raising it to $10.10.
Walker’s administration rejected a complaint on Oct. 7 filed by low-wage workers in the state seeking to raise the minimum wage, which is currently $7.25. “There is no reasonable cause to believe” that was not a living wage, the administration said in its denial, although a study released two days later found that some 700,000 people in Wisconsin – one in four workers – is earning poverty wages.
Walker has also struggled to bring jobs of any wages to the state. He has fallen short of his 2010 campaign pledge to create 250,000 private sector jobs, although he suggested Tuesday that the massive protests and recall elections he sparked by crushing public sector unions created too much "uncertainty" for businesses to hire people fast enough to meet his goal.
This is the second time in two weeks that Walker has tried to suggest his personal beliefs shouldn't raise eyebrows. After his campaign released a highly misleading ad about his positions on abortion (he has opposed it even in cases of rape or incest), Walker tried to dismiss his stances as irrelevant. “The Supreme Court more than 40 years ago ruled that is not an option,” Walker said when asked if he wanted to criminalize all abortions.