Honour supports wage protest, shutdown strategy

Oasis Cafe owner Craig Beemer (left) and GOP candidate for governor Scott Honour (right) discuss the state’s recent minimum wage increase. Tim Pugmire/MPR News

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Honour spent the day before the primary election highlighting his opposition to the state’s new minimum wage law, as well as his willingness to shut down state government in the event of a budget impasse.

Honour campaigned this morning at the Oasis Café in Stillwater to show his support for the owner Craig Beemer and his recent decision to add a 35 cent minimum wage fee to each customer’s bill.

“I applaud what you’re doing , getting the word out that these actions have consequences,” Honour said.

Minnesota’s minimum wage is set to increase gradually to $9.50 an hour for large employers by 2016, with annual, automatic inflationary increases coming after that. The first step of the phased-in increase kicked in Aug. 1, when the rate went to $8 an hour. Honour said last week that as governor he would attempt to freeze the rate at $8 and require legislative approval for any future increases.

Honour said Beemer had to add the fee in order to keep all of his current servers employed. He said the restaurant owner is being transparent about the impact of the minimum wage increase on his business.  Beemer, who lives in Wisconsin, said he supports Honour but won’t be able to vote for him.

“I didn’t even know there was a primary tomorrow, to be very honest with you,” Beemer said.

Honour, who is in a four-way GOP primary contest, also said he would be ready to “stand strong” against Democrats in the Minnesota Senate on budget negotiations, even if the result were a state government shutdown.

“We need leaders who are willing to articulate why our ideas are going to make this state better for everyone, and we will be willing to do that,” Honour said.