Raising minimum wage increases profitsPublished 8:30am Sunday, March 10, 2013
Column: Capitol Comments, by Shannon Savick
The past couple of weeks have been very busy as we approach our deadline to introduce new bills to committee. There are three bills that I’ve had the good fortune to work on and each of them will have a very positive impact in our district.
First, I wanted to talk briefly about a bill to increase Minnesota’s minimum wage that I heard in the Jobs Committee.
Minnesota’s current minimum wage is $5.25 for small employers and $6.15 for large employers, which makes the state 45th in the nation in minimum wage, behind all of our neighboring states. This bill would gradually increase those numbers to $9 for small employers and $10.55 for large employers by 2015.
I know firsthand how the minimum wage can impact small businesses. My mother was a small business owner, and she always stressed about minimum wage increases. But I did the books for her restaurant. Every time the minimum wage went up, her profits went up shortly after because more people in the community had the money to feed their families and spend money in the local economy. I’m confident this bill will help working families and put more dollars directly into the economy.
I also wanted to mention the health insurance exchange bill that the House passed. It will create a place to go online when you are shopping for health insurance and want to find the best deal, much like travel sites do now.
Under federal law, this exchange could either be implemented by us as a state or it would be implemented for us by the federal government. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a system that we can make changes to and improve upon than a system that is a one-size-fits-all federal program. Not only that, but it is estimated that families will save hundreds of dollars just by being able to use this marketplace to find the best match for them.
Public safety is another issue I’ve spoken about frequently in these columns, and I’m happy to say a bill has moved out of committee that will help volunteer firefighters. The bill would place a $5 surcharge on homeowners and auto insurance to help put more than $7 million a year toward fire relief and firefighters’ retirement funds.
I personally worked to ensure that the funds can either be managed locally or through the state retirement fund. That way, if local departments feel it would be best to manage their own local dollars, they will be able to. It’s another way we can take care of valuable volunteers that are working hard to protect our communities throughout the state.
Lastly, I wanted to thank everyone who came to see me at my town hall meeting last week. It was great to hear from you, and I look forward to talking with people from the district at my town hall meetings later in the session. To find out the complete list of meetings scheduled, go to www.house.mn/27a and click on “Town Hall Meetings.”
Shannon Savick, DFL-Wells, is the state representative for House District 27A.