Legislators agree on wage hike

Albert Lea Green Mill

KIMT News 3 — A few extra dollars an hour may be filling some workers’ pockets if a new agreement is signed into law. That discussion is taking place right now in Minnesota.

An agreement Monday morning by state leaders would mean that minimum wage would go up to $9.50 per hour within a few years. It would continue to rise unless the governor’s administration put a halt on it.

Right now Minnesota’s minimum wage sits at $6.15 an hour, but most make the federal minimum of $7.25.

It is something that area businesses are going to need to take into account when it comes to how they pay their employees.

“There’s a lot of things you really have to look at. It’s relative that inflations going to be all over the place because now that the price of the wage has gone up, also the price of all of the commodities are going to go up with it,” said Albert Lea Green Mill General Manager David Mord.

Mord said he is going to have to look into what the changes would mean for his own business.

“We’re going to have to reevaluate how we do our hiring and looking to see if the economy will sustain an increase like that so now it’s going to be tougher to have entry-level people come in, you’re going to have to go out find people that are maybe a little more qualified for the job,” Mord said.

For lawmakers like State Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, who have been dealing with this bill for a while, it is a relief.

“It’s just kind of that discussion about how we would do an inflator to make it a continual flow and steady increase,” Poppe said.

The bill calls for a gradual increase in pay until that number reaches $9.50 by 2016. Then starting in 2018 the wage would adjust with inflation.

“There’s an increase in August of this year, increase in August of next year, increase in August of 2016, so I think that phase in was important,” Poppe said.

Those like Mord say that gradual increase will benefit businesses like his so they can plan ahead.

“We’re going to definitely have to take a look at how we’re going to do it, but now it’s going to give us some time to evaluate a business plan,” Mord said.

He said from the business end of things, his non-minimum wage workers will also be looking for a pay increase. That is one of the concerns for State Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester, has.

Because there is no tip credit included in the bill, where restaurants and other tip-dependent industries can pay less than minimum wage, he is concerned it could be detrimental to small-town restaurants.

The bill does give the governor veto power that would allow a hold on future raises if economic trouble strikes.

It could make its way through both the House and Senate and then be on the governor’s desk later this week. Dayton has already said that he is looking forward to signing the bill into law.

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