Up to 350,000 workers would see their paychecks get much fatter under a hefty minimum wage hike the Minnesota House approved on Friday.
On a 68-62 vote, the House decided the state’s wage floor should hurdle from the current $6.15 an hour more than 50 percent, all the way to $9.50 by 2015.
“The more people who are making more money the better,” said DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler, the Golden Valley sponsor of the wage hike. “These are people... working for a living in an economy that increasingly favors the people at the top and leaves very little for everyone else.”
The vote makes good on a key DFL promise to help lower paid workers do better. But it also touches off both Republican and some Democratic doubts about businesses ability to handle such a steep climb in pay requirements.
“I understand the impact that this potentially can have on, you know, small hardware stores and little mom-and-pop cafes, family owned businesses that might have a few employees,” said Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.
“I think $9.50 is too much...I’m kind of concerned about overreaching on this.”
Bakk said the Senate would vote on their version of a minimum wage bill, which would raise the minimum wage to $7.75 an hour, on Wednesday. Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would welcome a measure to lift the minimum wage to a level between $9 an hour to $9.50.
In the coming weeks, leaders of the House, Senate and the governor will likely compromise on a wage increase for the lowest paid that will become law.
Many business groups say the 50 percent increase in the state wage floor would cripple employers’ flexibility and could cause businesses to scale back the number of jobs they provide.
On the House floor on Friday, Republican members said the wage bill created a “war on work.
“This is really another unemployment bill by the Democrats,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa. “This is not the place for the government to even be.”