After months of negotiations, DFL leaders from the House and Senate announced an agreement raising Minnesota’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2016. The agreement also includes automatic increases in the minimum wage based on inflation. The “indexing” of the minimum wage was opposed by some in the Senate, stalling an agreement. The problem was resolved by building in an “off ramp,” which allows for the state to not increase the minimum wage if there is an “economic downturn.”
House Speaker Paul Thissen called the agreement, “a good day for Minnesota.” Asked if he expected a “backlash” from voters, he said “yes, a positive one.”
Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) thanked the participation of a coalition of faith and labor organizations that helped spur the minimum wage agreement.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Thissen both denied that there was any connection between the House approving a new Senate office building last week and Monday’s minimum wage agreement.
Republican candidates for governor pounce on minimum wage announcement
GOP Sen. David Thompson, one of several potential Republican candidates for Governor, was skeptical that there was no “wheeling and dealing” between the House and Senate. “The Speaker and the Majority Leader both denied it, but their governor (DFLer Mark Dayton) believes that’s what was going on. Gov. Dayton slapped up Senator Bakk several days ago for holding up the tax bill over his desire to get the Senate office building.”
House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, also a Republican candidate for governor, also suggested that there was a connection between the two agreements, calling it “horse trading at the end of session for political favors for political partners.”
Thompson and Zellers both say they would rescind the indexing provision for raising the minimum wage to adjust for inflation if they become governor. Zellers called indexing “one of the most dangerous things you can do.” Thompson says it is irresponsible for the Legislature to give away that power to the executive branch.
Hospitality Minnesota President Dan McElroy says the restaurant and resort owners he represents do back an increase in the minimum wage, but were hoping it would only rise to $8.50 an hour, not the $9.50 that has been agreed upon by DFL leaders. McElroy says there are several good things in the minimum wage bill, including a lower “youth wage” and a lower minimum wage for employees of small businesses. He also backs the provision that suspends indexing the minimum wage to inflation if the state has an economic downturn.
Video at top of story: DFL House and Senate leaders announce minimum wage agreement.
Videos below: Republican gubernatorial hopefuls David Thompson and Kurt Zellers react to the minimum wage announcement and Hospitality Minnesota President Dan McElroy comments on the minimum wage agreement’s impact on restaurants and resorts.