Democratic lawmakers Melissa Hortman and David Tomassoni want to see the state’s minimum wage jump up to $9.50 an hour.
The bill, which supporters are calling the Family Economic Stability Act, was introduced in both chambers on Wednesday. The state minimum wage currently sits at $6.15 for large employers and $5.25 for small employers, a level that hasn’t changed since 2005. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. In addition to raising the minimum wage, the bill would fund childcare assistance programs and provide per-child tax credits for families.
“Poor people are poor because they don’t have a lot of money, and the sad part is a lot of poor people are working people,” Hortman, a DFL House member from Brooklyn Park, said while surrounded by clergy members and union representatives who support the bill. Hortman said the bill got a “big shot in the arm” from President Barack Obama, who said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday that he would like to see the federal minimum wage raised to $9 an hour.
For Tomassoni, giving more money to workers is good for the economy. “This is about putting some buying power into some people’s pocket,” the senator from Chisholm said.
Hortman and Tomassoni said there is no fiscal note yet for the tax credit portion of the bill, but Hortman says she believes there will be some cost to the state. Two other minimum wage bills have already been introduced, one from Minneapolis DFL Rep. Joe Mullery, which would raise the minimum wage for large employers to $9.38 an hour, and another from Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, which would raise the minimum wage to $7.50 an hour.
Hortman says she expects this bill to be part of the discussion in the House Select Committee on Living Wage Jobs, which will start hearings later this month.