Our leading Twin Cities restaurant owners are increasingly struggling to manage their exploding labor costs without the essential tip credit for servers to partially offset increasing minimum wage requirements. Now more than a year after city councils in Minneapolis and St. Paul disrupted restaurant economics by eliminating the tip credit, survival of full-service restaurants is clearly in jeopardy.

With razor-thin margins around 3%, the additional cost of paying servers higher minimum wages without the prior offset of the tip credit will soon wipe out their entire profitability. Full-service restaurants may have no choice but to either aggressively raise prices against strong consumer resistance or impose a surcharge on all checks and eliminate tipping. With many servers earning $30-100 per hour in tips alone, such a surcharge to be shared with support staff would reduce servers’ take home pay dramatically. Every server I know understands this attractive tip income may not be sustainable without the tip credit.

Several great local restaurants have already closed for labor-cost reasons and others are on the edge as they cut support staff, implement counter ordering or have chefs serve food directly out of the kitchen. San Francisco with its $15 minimum wage and no tip credit is “killing its restaurants,” according to the Wall Street Journal. If the councils’ primary goal is to see the minimum wage at increasingly high levels, why not immediately guarantee servers $20 an hour with a restored tip credit. Restaurant owners would embrace such a lifeline enthusiastically.

Bob Macdonald, Minneapolis


Legislators, your watches are slow

I commend Minnesota’s elected officials for trying to create an affordable insulin program, but they don’t know what “fighting the clock” really means (“Dueling insulin plans are proposed,” front page, Nov. 12.) They’ve debated this matter since last winter and now they’re hoping for a special session before the Legislature reconvenes — in February 2020.

Meanwhile, people with diabetes can die within days of running out of insulin. How would you like to fight that clock?

Every 35 minutes another Minnesotan is diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Many of them cannot afford insulin. Yet the clock doesn’t stop ticking.

Steve Greenfield, Duluth, Minn.

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Regarding insulin legislation, why aren’t we hearing from Minnesotans who depend on other life-sustaining, expensive drugs?

Sara amaden, Edina

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As I understand it from Tuesday’s paper regarding insulin, the GOP wants to have patients go to their doctor’s offices, submit a form for the doctor to review, have a staff member contact the drug manufacturer, wait for the insulin, and finally have the patients return to pick it up. Whew!

I worked for doctors for many years. I know that Minnesota has a shortage of primary care doctors. This is true throughout our country. The paperwork they must do is enormous. I think most people think when they see their doctor that his/her work is completed after the visit. Not so. The doctor must then make an electronic report for the patient’s record and insurance company and wait four to six weeks to be paid. If the patient is a workers’ compensation patient, there are more forms to be completed. If they are taking narcotics, the doctor must issue a new separate prescription every month for each medication. If the patient is on Medicare, Medicaid or other government insurance, the doctor must provide additional accountability.

I don’t know why anyone would become a primary care doctor today. They must do more and more work with less and less pay. Now the GOP wants to increase their duties by filling out hundreds of forms, having patients come to their office twice, sometimes at great inconvenience, and have their staff, already overworked, deal with all of this.

Count me out. DFL, here I come!

Carol Anderson, Prior Lake


Incremental change shouldn’t keep us from seeing the real goal

State Sen. John Marty’s description of what is wrong with the current health care system is the best explanation I have read about how an incremental, patched-up Affordable Care Act will not be enough to solve the current problems (“Single-payer Medicare for All actually IS the answer,” Opinion Exchange, Nov. 12). Former President Barack Obama himself wanted a public option, but the act could only get passed after the insurance lobbyists got their way. The ACA was a critical first step in reforming the health care system, but as Marty points out, it did nothing to curb the accelerating costs of health care in the country.

People cite examples of how government sometimes mismanages its budget, with the current scandal at the Minnesota Department of Human Services a recent one. However, even though there is corruption in, for example, the military budget, it still is not a good idea to hand over our military power to a private organization. The same is true of many major public interests the country has. Corruption and mismanagement are problems in private organizations as well as public ones. The focus needs to be on stamping out the corruption and mismanagement, not reassigning services because some corruption might occur.

Because of obvious political realities, it might only be possible to implement incremental changes to the ACA, but that should not keep us from seeing Marty’s point that a single-payer system could help us better deal with the extremely high cost of health care, which is bankrupting individuals and the country.

Burke Hilden, Maplewood


C’mon Congress, fund them

As an avid user of our national parks, I am encouraged by a bipartisan proposal in Congress to address crumbling infrastructure within these special places. Right now, because of years of unreliable funding, record visitation and aging infrastructure, our national parks need an astounding $12 billion in deferred maintenance repairs.

The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, the U.S. House version of the bill, would set aside $6.5 billion over the next five years to fix dilapidated trails, buildings, roads, bridges, monuments and historic markers in our parks. Amazingly, 329 members of the House and 43 senators — from both parties — are co-sponsoring this effort.

The popularity of fixing our parks is rooted in nationwide support. In a recent poll, The Pew Charitable Trusts found that 82% of Americans support legislation to address the deferred maintenance in our parks. Folks want to see these national treasures protected and maintained.

With all this support, you would think this would be an easy thing for Congress to get done. You’d be mistaken. Despite all the support for national parks, Congress still hasn’t found the will to push this popular legislation over the finish line. And by not acting it’s only making the problem more expensive to fix.

There is still time, though, to get the job done. Passage of these bill would deliver a win that fixes our parks, supports job creation and invests needed money into infrastructure. It’s what the American people want and what our national parks deserve.

Matt Steinrueck, Minneapolis


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