Minn. Lawmakers Push for Higher Minimum Wage
Posted at: 02/25/2013 6:19 PM
| Updated at: 02/25/2013 10:08 PM
By: Maarja Anderson
Some Minnesota lawmakers are making plans to increase the state's minimum wage. Proposals range from increasing the minimum wage one dollar to two dollars.
Monday marked the beginning of open discussion in the legislature with a House panel. They'll hear public testimony on Wednesday.
Minnesota's minimum wage is $6.15, but workers get paid the federal minimum of $7.25. Those for an increase, like Suzy Anderson, a sales clerk at Electric Fetus, say an increase would help families struggling to make ends meet.
"There's a lot of families and people, especially college age kids, just trying to make and it can be quite a struggle," said Anderson.
Democrats are pushing for an increase to match the cost of living and surrounding states. Republicans, like Rep. Andrea Kieffer (R) of Woodbury, say an increase could be crippling to business.
"When we are talking about forcing higher wages on business, we are increasing the cost of doing business," said Rep. Kieffer during a phone interview.
Rep. Kieffer said a better solution would be to look at individual jobs for increases, rather than raising the whole base.
"I'd actually like to see nothing happen, I think we are on economic recovery right now with some of the reforms that we did in the last legislative session," said Rep. Kieffer. "We need to be really careful not to increase the cost of doing business."
Here in the Northland, Duluth Pack said an increase in minimum wage wouldn't affect them.
"Whether they're here at our 102 year old factory, or whether they're at the retail store, or whether they're a part-time employee at the retail store, we start all employees above what they're proposing anyway," said Molly Solberg, Director of Sales and Marketing for Duluth Pack.
As a business however, Solberg said they understand why many business owners are hesitant of a higher minimum wage.
"When we hit the recession there's a lot of local businesses that are struggling to get out, so I can see how it would be a burden on some of those businesses that are just trying to recover from what happened a few years ago," said Solberg.
With many bills on the table and an all-Democratic state government, an increase of some kind is probable this year.