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Former MN Rep.: Minimum Wage Hike 'Modest Step' in Right Direction

Minnesota workers rally for a minimum wage raise in March 2013. (Minnesota AFL-CIO)
Minnesota workers rally for a minimum wage raise in March 2013. (Minnesota AFL-CIO)
August 1, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Starting today, more than 280,000 Minnesotans will see bigger paychecks thanks to the state's new minimum wage increase.

The 50 cent wage bump goes into effect today for large employers who will now have to pay workers at least $9.50 an hour. For smaller businesses, the wage goes up to $7.75 an hour.

In 2014, former state Rep. Ryan Winkler helped put the House version of the wage bill together. While the move still falls short of a livable wage, Winkler says it's a modest step in the right direction.

"I would very much support the move to go to $15,” he states. “I think that should be the national minimum. That's just part of a broader set of labor and employment law reforms that we need, which include paid family and medical leave, earned sick leave."

Gov. Mark Dayton supports the current wage increase, saying it will improve the lives of full-time workers in the state.

But, some Minnesota lawmakers and business owners argue the wage raise could force them to cut staff or raise prices for customers.

But those fears may be unfounded, as the U.S. Department of Labor reports that minimum wage increases benefit both employees and employers.

Winkler argues that if workers have more money in their pockets, they'll also spend more at local businesses.

"Which helps drive demand and revenue up for what businesses are selling,” he points out. “If you look at what's happened in Minnesota since we raised the minimum wage, we've seen growing employment in the industries most affected by minimum wage."

Meanwhile, City Attorney Susan Segal is challenging the effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Minneapolis. She says the move to put a wage-raise amendment on the city's November ballot does not meet legal qualifications.

Wage-raise supporters say the issue could end up in court.



Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN