Bill that would raise minimum wage 70 percent to $10.55 an hour advances in House

"You need to have people who can support themselves and buy things," Winkler said.
"You need to have people who can support themselves and buy things," Winkler said.

Rep. Ryan Winkler, D-Golden Valley, thinks it's about time low-paid Minnesota workers get a raise -- and a big one, at that.

SEE ALSO: Mary Franson thinks City Pages blogger should blame his rent increase on Gov. Dayton

Winkler's bill to raise the state's minimum wage from $6.15 for large employers and $5.25 for small employers all the way up to $10.55 passed its first hurdle last week when it was approved in an 8-6 party-line vote by the Labor, Workplace and Regulated Industries Committee. The legislation now advances to the Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee. Senate bills that would raise the minimum wage more modestly haven't yet had hearings.

The Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services details Winkler's bill:

[It] would raise the minimum wage incrementally up to $9 an hour by Aug. 1, 2015, for small businesses and up to $10.55 per hour for large employers. Small and large employers are defined as those whose volume of sales or business is above or below $625,000...

The bill also would prohibit an employer from displacing an employee through a reduction in hours, wages or benefits in order to hire an employee at the new minimum wage...

Beginning in 2016, the minimum wage would automatically be adjusted based on the rate of inflation, a provision opposed by Republicans.

More information comes via the Pioneer Press:

The change in statute would amount to an increase in the minimum wage over three years of about 70 percent...

A minimum wage of $10.55 per hour at large firms would match the inflation-adjusted minimum wage that was in place, Winkler said, during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

As you'd imagine, Winkler emphasizes the impact his bill will have in stimulating demand, while Republicans are primarily concerned about the possibility a higher minimum wage could stifle job creation on the supply side.

In an MPR report, here's what Winkler has to say on behalf of his legislation:

You need to have a strong middle class. You need to have people who work that are able to support themselves and buy things. The economic driver is not just one. It's not just the other. But for too long our policy has focused solely on businesses and the supply side of economics. I think that's the great testament to Ronald Reagan. He made us forget all about the other half of the economy, and we need to start turning that around.

On the other side of the aisle, in an AP report, Rep. Mark Uglem, R-Champlin, said: "We all want to have a vibrant economy, and if the producers of jobs... are not able to create jobs, it's not going to matter what the minimum wage is."

During his State of the Nation speech, President Obama implored Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour. Legislation introduced earlier this session by DFLers would raise the state minimum wage to $9.50, but that bill hasn't received a hearing.

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