All around the world the gap between rich and poor, between whites and people of color is getting wider. These economic and racial inequalities are unacceptable. They hold back both individuals and our society from greatness. They deny human dignity and damage our democracy. Minnesota is not immune from this. We have some of the worst gaps between whites and people of color. To be the state we aspire to be, we must challenge these inequities at every turn. Progressives must insist that state government take every opportunity to close these gaps.
The Legislature and Governor must address racial and economic inequality with action on tax fairness (link), education (link), jobs & infrastructure (link), environmental justice (link), transportation (link), affordable hosuing (link) and many other issues. Please follow the links to find out more. Income inequality is one of the biggest causes of gaps and progressives must be absolutely clear that state government must lead and not wait for action in Washington.
The 2014 Legislature, which was controlled by the DFL, passed a new minimum wage law that raised wages incrementally for over 250,000 minimum wage workers in Minnesota. Minnesota’s minimum wage has increased four times since then, from $6.15 for large employers before the law took effect, to $9.65 in 2018 – a 57 percent increase in just over three years. Under that law, the minimum wage will continue to be adjusted for inflation.
As of Jan. 1, 2018:
- Large employers must pay at least $9.65 an hour when the employer's annual gross revenues are $500,000 or more.
- Small employers must pay at least $7.87 an hour when the employer's annual gross revenues are less than $500,000.
- A training wage rate, $7.87 an hour, may be paid to employees younger than 20 years of age for the first 90 consecutive days of employment.
- A youth wage rate, at least $7.87 an hour, may be paid to employees younger than 18 years of age.
Coming Up in 2018 & 2019: While these minimum wage rate increases boost incomes for more than 250,000 Minnesotans and their families, who are working hard to lift themselves out of poverty, Jean believes that the rate needs to be increased further. Confronting income inequality necessarily includes confronting the racial disparities that are holding communities back.
Jean strongly advocates for state funding for programs that will combat income inequality including:
- Access to affordable health care.
- Preschool for 3 and 4 year olds.
- Sliding fee support for high quality child care for working parents.
- Higher education tuition grants.
- Transit that allows employees to commute to work.
If, as expected, Republicans decline to allow a vote on a higher minimum wage and other actions to address inequality in 2018, Jean will push DFLers to make combating inequality a high priority in 2019 after the November election.