MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A contract that would give most Wisconsin state troopers a 2% pay increase and a much larger bump for starting salaries was in jeopardy Tuesday after it wasn’t included on a list of raises to be voted on by a Republican-controlled special legislative committee.
Republicans also planned to reject Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to set the minimum hourly wage for state workers at $15.
The Joint Committee on Employment Relations was scheduled to meet Wednesday to approve 2% pay raises in each of the next two years for state employees and workers at the University of Wisconsin System and on the Madison campus. But the troopers’ contract, which would include retroactive pay increases of 2% for 2018 and 2019, was not included on the agenda released Tuesday.
Republican senators were concerned about the double-digit percentage increase in pay for starting salaries and wanted more time to review it, said Angela Roidt, a spokeswoman for Republican Senate President Roger Roth. Roidt said she didn’t know if the contract would be voted on at a later date.
Roth and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos co-chair the committee. Vos did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment.
Evers’ spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff called the decision to reject the troopers’ contract “unfortunate and disappointing.”
“I have no idea how Republicans in the majority party can vote to raise their own salaries while shortchanging the men and women in uniform who patrol our streets and keep our communities safe,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, a member of the committee that is to vote on pay raises. “Outside of the state Capitol, these officers have our back. Inside the Capitol, we should have theirs.”
Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, also a member of the committee, said he hoped the patrol contract could be voted on at a later date.
The troopers deal would raise starting salaries from about $44,000 a year to nearly $54,000. That is an increase of about 23%. It’s designed to bring troopers in line with other law enforcement agencies. Police officers in Milwaukee, Madison, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, La Crosse, Green Bay and a host of other agencies all have higher starting salaries.
Hintz said he worried that the salary disparities could hinder recruitment for the state patrol.
The troopers deal was to cover 2017-2019. They did not have an agreement between 2015 and 2017.
Evers has also asked the special committee to approve a $15 minimum starting wage for state workers. Evers first asked for the $15 minimum wage in his budget proposal that Republicans rejected. He renewed the call when submitting the pay plan to the special committee for approval, but Republicans who control the panel planned to reject it based on a list of changes to the contract they circulated Tuesday ahead of the vote.