-- Updates at bottom --
Last year, bills raising the minimum wage from $6.15 passed the House and Senate. But the House wanted to raise the floor significantly higher than the Senate ($9.50 to $7.75, respectively), and DFL leaders never came to an agreement.
DFL leaders announced today, however, that not only have they come together behind the $9.50 figure, but they also support indexing the minimum wage to inflation beginning in 2018.
"We are pleased to reach agreement on a strong minimum wage that will help Minnesota workers, and in doing so, strengthen Minnesota's economy," House Speaker Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, says in a press release. "While Minnesota's economy is improving, there are too many Minnesotans who work hard every day but cannot make enough to make ends meet."
Those sentiments are echoed by Senate Majority Leader, D-Cook.
"Achieving a meaningful increase to Minnesota's minimum wage has been our priority from the start of session, and today's agreement puts us very close to passing $9.50 on to Governor Dayton," Bakk says in the release. "Lifting up our lowest paid workers is good for families, it's good for our communities and it's good for our economy."
The legislation supported by DFL leaders would raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016 for "businesses with gross sales over $500,000" and $7.75 for smaller businesses. It includes exceptions for some teenage workers, but none for tipped workers.
We contacted Amos Briggs, communications director for the Senate's DFL caucus, and asked how many workers will be impacted by the proposed increase. He said he expects the wage hike to benefit more than just those making the minimum wage since "rising tides raise all boats." (He said he'd get back to us today with some data.)
Today's announcement of the newfound agreement among DFL leaders on the minimum wage issue comes days after a House committee voted to approve $77 million in funding for a controversial new Senate office building. Some political observers put two and two together and concluded House support for the building was a precondition for Senate support for the House's preferred minimum wage hike, but any connection between the two developments was denied by DFL leaders during a news conference this morning.
:::: UPDATE ::::
This afternoon, Governor Mark Dayton released a statement announcing he'll sign a minimum wage increase into law.
Here it is in its entirety:
"I congratulate the House and Senate leaders for reaching agreement on Minimum Wage legislation. I am very pleased that it will raise Minnesota's minimum wage to $9.50 per hour, and index it to inflation. I look forward to signing this legislation into law."
:::: UPDATE II ::::
Briggs, responding to our question about how many will be impacted by the minimum wage hike, referred us to numbers from pro-minimum wage hike group Raise the Wage MN.
The group estimates the $9.50 minimum wage will "mean better wages for nearly 357,000 Minnesotans" and "more economic security for 137,000 children whose parents are low-wage earners."
Raise the Wage MN estimates more money in workers' pockets will translate to $472 million in increased consumer spending as well.
But some worry higher labor costs for minimum wage workers will translate to less opportunity for workers.
"Unfortunately, this anti-business, anti-consumer legislation will actually hurt low-wage workers," MNGOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson wrote on Facebook. "You can't raise the price of something 50% and not expect some will quit buying it."