For now, minimum-wage talks are at a 'stalemate'

Legislative negotiators won’t meet again until next week after discussions stalled over inflation issue.

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These demonstrators showed what they think should be a top priority for legislators. With a nearly $1 billion budget surplus, DFLers — who control both chambers — will be pushing a minimum wage hike.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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After two days of tense meetings, legislative negotiations on increasing the minimum wage have reached an impasse — for now.

Lawmakers are tied up on whether to add an inflationary bump in the move to phase in a proposed increase in the wage floor to $9.50 an hour by 2016.

As Democrats, including President Obama and several members of the Minnesota congressional delegation, push for a federal minimum-wage increase, DFLers controlling the Minnesota House and Senate reached what Rep. Ryan Winkler called a “stalemate.”

“It doesn’t look like we’re making a lot of progress,” Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, told his fellow lawmakers as they attempted to negotiate a compromise on Wednesday.

Since Monday, when Senate officials said for the first time they would support a minimum wage of $9.50 an hour, House and Senate officials have been unable to agree whether future minimum-wage increases should be automatic.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said on Tuesday that if the House insisted on including an inflationary bump, “there won’t be a bill.”

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, replied, “if the Senate wants to kill the bill, they should just tell Minnesotans directly.”

While tempers appeared to have cooled publicly by Wednesday, legislators were still stymied over the question of inflation in minimum-wage increases come 2017.

“The inflater is a non-starter in the Senate. I don’t have the votes,” said Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center.

Negotiators, who met every day this week, will not meet publicly again until Monday.

Twitter: @RachelSB

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