Newspaper article

Business Owners, Bracing for a Minimum-Wage Hike, Seek to Ease Financial Impact

Newspaper article

Business Owners, Bracing for a Minimum-Wage Hike, Seek to Ease Financial Impact

Article excerpt

Bracing themselves for a likely bump in Minnesota's minimum wage, business owners have shifted their strategy at the Minnesota Legislature this year, now hoping to have some say in how the increase is implemented.

That approach was on display Thursday evening, as a minimum-wage conference committee met for the first time since the final day of the 2013 session.

DFL leaders who control state government say a minimum-wage increase will be a priority this year.

Grocers, restaurateurs, small-business owners and lobbyists lined up alongside minimum wage workers to ask lawmakers to consider everything from training wages to some form of a tip credit. Most said they supported an increase in the minimum wage, just not as high as $9.50 per hour.

"I'm not a Target executive. I don't have millions of dollars that I'm making," said Kristen CiCi, a longtime DFL activist who owns three small businesses in Minnesota. "Having been a Democrat and been heavily involved in campaigns for my entire life, I want to support paying workers a fair wage. But I can say that, as a small- business owner as well, this would have a huge impact on us."

Minnesota's current minimum wage is $6.15 an hour for large employers, but House Democrats would like to see that bumped to $9.50, briefly making Minnesota the highest minimum wage state in the nation. The Senate is pushing a bill that would raise the state's minimum wage to $7.75 per hour, or 50 cents higher than the current federal minimum wage.

Jon Schmidt, owner of Mocha Monkey in Waconia, said he just opened a second coffee shop and doubled their number of employees from about 16 to 30 people. More than half of those workers are in high school.

"They have other jobs. They are doing this job for fun," said Schmidt, who calculated a minimum-wage increase to $9. …

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