Minnesota lawmakers weren't the only ones who returned to the state Capitol Tuesday. Hundreds of supporters of a minimum wage increase rallied in the rotunda, urging the Legislature to raise the wage to $9.50 an hour.
As the Associated Press reports, the rally was organized by the Raise the Wage Coalition. House Speaker Paul Thissen reiterated that the minimum wage increase is a priority for DFLers during the session that began Tuesday.
Raising the state's minimum wage from its current $6.15 an hour to $9.50 has the support of Gov. Mark Dayton and of the leadership in the House, which passed such a bill last year. The Senate, on the other hand, backed an increase to $7.75 an hour last year and had been reluctant to embrace $9.50.
But the AP says DFL Majority Leader Tom Bakk told those at Tuesday's rally he now thinks a $9.50 wage has enough support for approval, particularly if the increase is phased in.
Republican critics argue an increase of that size will cost the state jobs. Some business leaders agree. Northland's News Center spoke with the president of Grandma's Restaurant, Brian Daugherty, who says a wage increase that large would cause him to look at eliminating jobs, replacing workers with technology such as iPads , and raising prices.
In a statement supporting a minimum wage of $9.50, Gov. Dayton said the increase would put an additional $472 million into the pockets of low-wage workers, who would spend most of that money at local businesses.
In looking ahead at the 2014 legislative session, Twin Cities Business identified the minimum wage proposal – along with the bonding bill, a budget surplus, and a possible rollback of business-to-business taxes – as the issues that will be the focus of lawmakers' attention.