State Reps. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, and Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, supported the bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2016.
Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Cass County, supported a reasonable minimum wage increase to match the federal standard. He said raising the wage too high, too fast, and putting it on auto pilot is too risky for a healthy Minnesota economy.
“The minimum wage increase, once it’s all said and done, is a 54 percent increase and that, frankly, is unbearable for many of our small businesses, grocers, retailers, gas stations, etc.,” Gazelka said.
The minimum wage will also be increased to inflation starting in 2018 to ensure the value of the minimum wage does not fall over time.
“This is a smart, responsible way to raise the minimum wage,” said Ward. “The bill includes a training wage for younger workers and a lower minimum wage for our small businesses to address their concerns. In Minnesota, we value hard work and should reward that. Raising the minimum wage will help boost our economy.”
Radinovich said raising the minimum wage will help lift families out of poverty.
“Most of Minnesota’s minimum wage workers are on some form of public assistance. In essence, taxpayers are subsidizing businesses paying their employees low wages,” he said. “Raising the minimum wage will get people off public assistance, save taxpayer money, and grow the economy. No one who works hard and puts in 40 hours a week should have to live in poverty.”
Ward and Radinovich said they understood the concern of restaurant owners and interest in a tip credit.
“We lobbied the chief author to look at and try to come up with a solution to this issue,” said Ward. “We will continue to work on a solution to this issue.”
Gazelka said: “In the end we’re going to lose some of our entry level jobs and I think it will hurt the small businesses in rural Minnesota. I did support conformity to the federal guidelines for minimum wage, which would have been a modest increase, but all Democrats refused to adopt that language so, at the end of the day I could not support a 54 percent increase in minimum wage.”