Minimum Wage Hike Passes

Created: 04/10/2014 10:59 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- On Thursday, debate in the Minnesota House over a proposed minimum wage hike was fierce, with Democrats stressing the need to help families.

"Now that I have kids, and I know how the cost of living and the cost of raising kids can eat you alive, it's unfathomable to me that people attempt to support families on these salaries,” said Rep. Mike Freiberg, a Democrat from Golden Valley.

Republicans, on the other hand, said the bill would only hurt businesses, trying to connect it to recent approval of a new Senate building.

"What you are seeing today is a bargain among thieves,” said Pat Garofalo, a Republican from Farmington. “Small business owners having money taken from them to pay for the Senate's new Senate office building across the street."

In the end, the bill passed by a 71 to 60 vote.

Under the new law, the current rate of $6.50 per hour will rise to $8.00 per hour in August.

The rate will then bump to $9.00 per hour in 2015, and then to $9.50 per hour the year after that.

In the future, the rate will be tied to inflation, with increases capped at 2.5 percent.

And for those who make minimum wage, it's welcome news.

"An extra two dollars is gas, it's cat food, it's taking care of your kids, it’s taking care of your animals,” said Heather Anderson, a server at Victoria’s restaurant in Rochester. “It's taking care of your household.”

But at Steve's Pizza in Austin, the owner said the increase will be a burden.

"I have nothing against anybody making a living wage, but a business needs to make more than a living wage to pay all the expenses,” said owner Steve Davis.

Davis said those expenses include skyrocketing dairy and meat prices, along with increased property taxes and insurance payments.

He said with wages going up too, something will have to give.

"What that will mean eventually is price increases....less hours open perhaps, less service,” Davis said. “We'll do what we have to do, I guess, and adapt to it. That's the name of the game, go with the flow and do what you have to do."

No one currently working at Steve's Pizza makes the minimum wage, with Davis saying he sees that only as a starting wage.

But he like many other business owners will now have to figure out what to do with those employees who make slightly more than the minimum wage and may now expect a raise.

Governor Dayton said he will sign the bill on Monday.