Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer has now zigged after zagging got him in trouble.
Emmer, a Republican House member from Delano, has now suggested waiters and waitresses be allowed to keep their tips tax free. The idea comes after more than a week of attention on a his proposal for a so called "tip credit" for servers, which would allow them to earn less than the minimum wage assuming their tips would make up the difference.
“They should not have to report their tips. Tips should not be taxed. That’s my belief,” Emmer said.
The idea would cost the state about $17 million, the Emmer campaign estimates.
The proposal is new to Emmer and came about after he drew criticism for suggesting a “tip credit” and for saying that some restaurant workers earn $100,000 a year.
There’s no sign he ever backed the tax exemption during his five years in the Legislature. But it’s not an unheard of idea – Montana allows food, lodging and beverage workers to keep their tips tax free and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas Republican who ran for president in 2008, has proposed something similar on a federal level.
Emmer's tax exemption would apply to servers' first $20,000 in tips. The average Minnesota waiter or waitress earns an average of $9.36 an hour, which would be just under $20,000 a year for someone working five days a week, 40 hours a day.
After Emmer said he would back a tip credit and declined to provide any detail, many believed that would mean a wage cut for servers. Emmer’s campaign later said servers would only see a lower minimum wage if the minimum wage increased for other workers.
But, Emmer’s spokesman Bill Walsh, said Emmer wouldn’t be likely to propose a minimum wage increase. That makes the tip credit idea moot.
Emmer has also backed away from the idea that some servers earn $100,000 a year and Emmer may underscore that point Wednesday at a townhall meeting with servers, Walsh said.