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Restaurant owners want tips factored in to any minimum wage hike

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As Minnesota lawmakers consider raising the minimum wage, the state's restaurant owners are urging them to make an exception for employees who also earn tips.

The Minnesota Restaurant Association argues businesses should be allowed to continue paying servers the U.S. minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, provided their total income with tips comes to at least $12 an hour.

A bill at the Capitol would boost Minnesota's minimum hourly wage from its current $6.15 to $9.95 by 2015 and would make future increases automatic based on the rate of inflation.

The association also released a survey in which most restaurateurs said they would raise prices, cut staff, and postpone improvements to cope with a minimum wage increase.

The House sponsor of the minimum wage bill tells MPR he's not interested in any exception for tipped employees. DFLer Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley says giving raises to Minnesotans - including restaurant servers - will stimulate the economy by increasing spending.

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