TOM EMMER

He's on the money regarding tip credit

Critics of gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer's proposed tip credit need to square their rhetoric with the facts ("Emmer: Lower wages for tipped workers," July 6).

Despite claims that a tip credit could harm working families, Census Bureau data shows that the vast majority of the tipped workforce are not single parents or single earners supporting children. In fact, more than half are young adults between the ages of 16 and 24, some of whom are completing school and value the schedule flexibility that a tipped job affords.

It's also intellectually dishonest to claim a higher minimum rate is needed for employees already earning far above it.

Nationally, tipped workers earn an average $11.65 an hour, with tips included. This is 60 percent more than the federal minimum of $7.25, and 30 percent more than the living wage for a single adult residing in Minneapolis or St. Paul.

A tip credit represents a sensible compromise: Minnesota's tipped workforce will continue to earn a wage far above the federal minimum, and businesses running on razor-thin margins won't be forced to offset higher state-mandated labor costs by raising menu prices or hiring fewer staff.

MICHAEL SALTSMAN, RESEARCH FELLOW, EMPLOYMENT POLICIES INSTITUTE, WASHINGTON, D.C.

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I used to work as a cook in various restaurants, and every night servers would easily take home double what I made, if not significantly more, due to their high base wage and the addition of tips. The servers were routinely taking home $20 or more per hour waiting on tables, which resulted in a wage comparable to a person with a bachelor's degree in a science or business field.

I have no problem with Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer wanting to cut the base wage of servers for this very reason. North Dakota pays servers less, and there is never any shortage of willing, pleasant servers in any of the restaurants I have been to there.

Besides, who is forcing anyone to work for a tip? If current servers do not like the prospect of relying more on the tips earned from their work, perhaps they need to find a job where they do not receive tips.

JORDAN KIEMELE, Rochester, Minn.

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So the Star Tribune seems to think Tom Emmer is feisty ("Emmer's feisty spirit fuels legal fights," June 22).

Gosh, what could make him that way?

He didn't inherit a fortune from the hard work of his ancestors. His family doesn't have millions of dollars in the bank because of his wife's success in her career. He and his wife don't rely on government as the only source of their income. He doesn't believe that making Minnesota great again means taking more of hardworking people's money to fund every single whimsical idea running through liberal legislators' minds. He actually thinks that parents, not the government, should raise and impart values to their children. And he actually believes that there is a limit to what government can do and what problems it can solve.

Gosh, are there any other feisty people running for high office? I want to support them, too.

BRUCE ANDERSON, EAGAN

Mark Dayton

He'll chase money with 'tax the rich' proposals

On July 8, the Star Tribune editorialized: "Tip to Emmer: Drop gratuity idea."

How about a tip for DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton, who would like to rid the state of snowbirds by taxing them?

He fails to understand that snowbirds would take with them their real-estate taxes, sales taxes, spending, charitable contributions and positive involvement in our communities.

BILL HALLING, Edina

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"Tax the rich," says Mark Dayton.

But who are the rich?

Those who earn much (income taxes), those who spend much (sales taxes) or those who own much (property taxes)?

THOMAS HOFFMAN, EDINA

Off-road vehicles

Gas tax expenditures for DNR trails rational

I have never owned an ATV, snowmobile or any other off-road recreational vehicle. And I do care about how those who do own such vehicles treat the environment. But the expenditure of $350 million of gas tax revenues in nearly 50 years to keep up trails and enforce laws does not seem in any way excessive ("DNR drives millions in gas tax off road,'' July 7). That amount over that period of time would have been negligible if devoted only to roads anyway.

Indeed, where would those vehicles be treading (literally) if there were no trails? Perhaps over the lake-cabin properties of the very critics of the spent money? I suspect they'd really be complaining then.

The source of the money, gas tax revenues, is logical and fitting. Despite the specious argument that nonusers are paying for users, some of those same nonusers might not have children in school, but they still help pay for public education and other government services they may not use but which are nevertheless needed. Besides, off-roaders use gas to run their vehicles, so their gas taxes help roads and bridges, too.

KEVIN DRISCOLL, ST. Paul

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Yes some gas tax dollars are spent, but $350 million since the early 1960s is less than $4 million per year. How many tax dollars have those who drive off-road vehicles brought into this state since then?

Maybe Minnesotans for Responsible Recreation would prefer that tourism advertising show multibillion-dollar light-rail systems rather than the great white north. And I'm sure northern Minnesotans love to pay for the metro's traffic nightmares.

MIKE HOLSLIN, St. Michael, Minn.

ETHANOL

'The market' distorted by taxpayer subsidies

Brad Nelson, in his July 8 commentary ("Policies should support ethanol use"), says that "we must let the market work by lifting the government's arbitrary regulatory cap on ethanol." Yet he makes no mention of the $17 billion in subsidies that, according to the accompanying commentary from the Economist, were provided by the government in the past four years.

Does Nelson really want to "let the market work," or just certain parts of the market?

STEVE PARSONS, ST. Louis Park