Blue Plate owner says restaurant can't afford another costly mandate

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David Burley, co-owner of Blue Plate in St. Paul, says his restaurant cannot afford a mandated minimum wage increase on top of mandated health care going into effect next year.

"The health care benefit will increase the overall wage and benefit package our employees receive. That’s like getting a hefty raise. We cannot afford to give employees another raise on top of that health benefits bump," Burley wrote in a Star Tribune opinion piece.

The high-profile restaurateur notes Minnesota is home to nearly 10,000 restaurants, which employ more than 260,000 workers across the state.

Legislators are considering raising the state's base-wage by as much as 70 percent over the next three years. Last week, a House Committee approved a proposed measure that would eventually increase the minimum wage to $10.55 an hour -- $9 for small businesses.

Proponents of raising the minimum wage say the hike would help families and not translate to lost jobs.

Among supporters of the hike are Aaron Sojourner, an economist at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, who recently penned an argument in favor of a wage hike with Michael Reich, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley. They argue raising the minimum wage is smart state policy.

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