MINIMUM WAGE: Gov. Dayton signs $9.50 hike into law - KMSP-TV

MINIMUM WAGE: Gov. Dayton signs $9.50 hike into law

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Gov. Mark Dayton signs minimum wage increase into law. Gov. Mark Dayton signs minimum wage increase into law.
Gov. Mark Dayton signs the minimum wage bill in the Capitol Rotunda. Gov. Mark Dayton signs the minimum wage bill in the Capitol Rotunda.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

On Monday afternoon, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill that will increase Minnesota's minimum wage into law, meaning many Minnesotans will see a raise this summer.

A ceremony was at 2:30 p.m. at the Capitol Rotunda. All Minnesotans were invited to attend the event, which marked the first time in a decade that lawmakers changed the wage.

LISTEN: Dayton praises passage of bill

The bill, which cleared the Senate on Wednesday, will raise the minimum wage to $9.50 for large companies in a series of phases, is indexed to inflation and will impact over 300,000 Minnesota workers.

"I think it's absolutely a positive," House Speaker Paul Thissen said. "The more money people have in their pockets, the more money they will spend in their communities, the better off we all will be."


August 2014: Minimum wage climbs to $8 per hour

August 2015: Minimum wage climbs to $9.00 per hour

August 2016: Minimum wage climbs to $9.50 per hour, can rise through inflation starting in 2018


Last week, the House and Senate agreed to phase in the hike by 2016, which means most large businesses would have to pay employees $9.50 an hour at that time.

Lawmakers agreed to index the minimum wage for inflation starting in 2018 with an annual cap of 2.5 percent, so in the first year of inflation, a worker could make $9.74 an hour at the most.

Minnesota's lower minimum wage would stay intact for small companies with annual gross sales below $500,000. For those companies, minimum wage would top out at $7.75 in 2016.


Opponents to raising the wage have often said that forcing businesses to pay employees more could lead to layoffs and a slower economy, but at least one local company says that hasn't been true for them.

Kelly Donlon is a dog lover, and with three of her own at home, she says her job at Chuck and Don's Pet Supply is a perfect fit.

"You learn so much on the job -- learn about all the treats, what's healthy for your pets, what's healthy for you," she said. "It's been a really rewarding experience."

Her 25-hour-a-week gig just got a little sweeter after the Mahtomedi-based company bumped her starting wage of $8.25 to $10.25 after just 6 months. The boost came as part of a company-wide effort to increase all pay grades.

"It's a huge difference," Donlon said. "I went from taking out student loans and having to go through the process to saving that pay bump in my check, and didn't have to take out the loan. That's a no-debt dance. I'm real excited about that."

As for why they did it, owner Chuck Anderson said, "They deserved it."

"We feel it will not only benefit the employees, but it will benefit the company," he said.

Anderson launched the popular chain of stores in 1990, but now, he has 25 locations which carry the second-largest selection of natural and holistic foods and he employs nearly 300 employees.

Now, the company's starting wage is $10.10, which is ahead of the state's impending scale.

"It's a start, that is for sure. It's a lot better than $8 an hour or $9 an hour. We find at $10 an hour, I think it equates somewhere around $20-$25,000 a year," Anderson estimated.

So on the day that Dayton signed a new statewide minimum wage increase into law, Anderson had the following to say:

"We could afford to do it. That doesn't mean to say what we did is right for everybody. It was our decision. We didn't want the government to come in and say, 'You gotta do it.'"

Anderson added that offering higher wages also helps them recruit stronger workers.

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