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Ward, Radinovich support raise in minimum wage

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

The Minnesota House passed a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016. 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. The bill, which passed the Senate yesterday, now goes to the governor to be signed into law. State Representatives John Ward, DFL – Baxter, and Joe Radinovich, DFL – Crosby, supported the bill.

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The bill is expected to have significant impact on Minnesota families, according to the DFLers’ news release. Over 357,000 workers will see a raise when the increase is fully implemented. Of those workers, 45 percent have some college education and 57 percent, or 200,000 are women. Of the workers expected to receive a raise, 62,850 are parents. And 14,200 of those are the sole wage earner in their household.

Rep. Ward said he was pleased with the final version of the proposal.

“This is a smart, responsible way to raise the minimum wage,” Ward said. “The bill includes a training wage for younger workers and a lower minimum wage for our small businesses to address their concerns.”

Rep. 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,” said Rep. Radinovich. “Raising the minimum wage will get people off public assistance, save taxpayer money, and grow the economy.”

Details of the bill include:

• $9.50 minimum wage for businesses with gross sales over $500,000 in 2016. $8.00 in August 2014, $8.50 in August 2015.

• $7.75 minimum wage for businesses under $500,000 in gross sales in 2016. $6.50 in August 2014, $7.25 in August 2015.

• The $7.75 minimum wage rate would also apply for large businesses in the following circumstances: 90 day training wage for 18 and 19 year olds, all 16 and 17 year olds and employees working under a J1 visa.

• Beginning in 2018, all wages would increase each year on January 1st by inflation measured by the implicit price deflator capped at 2.5%.

• The indexed increase could be suspended for one year by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry if leading economic indicators indicate the possibility of a substantial downturn in the economy. The suspension could only be implemented after a public hearing and public comment period. In better economic times, the suspended inflationary increase or a lesser amount could be added back into the minimum wage rate in a subsequent year.

Reps. 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 Rep. Ward. “We will continue to work on a solution to this issue.”

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