Honour would freeze minimum wage as governor

GOP gubernatorial hopeful Scott Honour holds a news conference to outline his plan for growing the state economy. Tim Pugmire/MPR News

The four Republicans running for governor in next week’s primary are not big fans of Minnesota’s new minimum wage law, but one is proposing to stop the hourly rate in its tracks at $8.

Businessman and first-time candidate Scott Honour outlined an economic plan today that would undo the minimum wage measure that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law earlier this year. Under the law, Minnesota’s minimum wage increased to $8 an hour on Aug. 1. It will also increase each of the next two years, reaching $9.50 in 2016. Automatic annual inflationary increases will begin in 2018. But Honour said that’s going too far.

“I think seeing minimum wage being increased by government and having government artificially interfere with the economy hurts the opportunity for Minnesotans to have a job.” Honour said.

This year’s increase was the first since 2005. Honour said he wants to freeze the minimum wage at its current rate of $8, and require legislative approval for any additional increases.

The new law allows a governor to suspend an inflationary increase in a given year if there’s an economic downturn. They would also have the authority to make up the lost ground when the economy rebounds.

Honour’s primary rivals also have concerns about the inflationary indexing. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and former House Speaker Kurt Zellers have said for months they would block those automatic increases. Former state Rep. Marty Seifert said he would take a close look at them.

“Probably wouldn’t do them, just because of the fact that we’ll be among the highest (minimum wage) in the United States,” Seifert said.

Seifert said Honour’s plan is unrealistic, because Democrats who passed the minimum wage law will still control the Minnesota Senate for at least two more years.