Bill would share tax data for minimum wage study

Minnesota lawmakers are moving closer to providing tax data for a study of ordinances that set higher minimum wages in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

A House bill that advanced Monday would give the Department of Revenue authority to provide tax information to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The bill now awaits action by the full House.

The data wouldn’t be traceable to individual taxpayers, but it would supply critical research on the economic impact of eventual $15 per hour minimum wages in the two big cities.

“The proposed evaluation is the most comprehensive economic study of its kind and has the potential to inform public policy not only in Minnesota, but also nationally,” said B Kyle, head of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. She added that the Federal Reserve is a trusted, neutral party for the study.

Mike Solomon, treasurer for St. Paul, said the city council has adopted a resolution backing the study.

“Overall, the study is a really important part of the successful implementation of the city of St. Paul’s minimum wage ordinance,” he told state lawmakers.

Minneapolis business and government leaders are also on board. The research would be done at no cost to the city.

“The one thing that the business community really stressed was wanting a study that effectively called balls and strikes over a period of time to understand what is the economic impact, if any, so that policymakers could adapt and continue to reflect on those policies,” said Jonathan Weinhagen, president and chief executive of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The information would be supplied to researchers into 2033.

For now, there is no Senate companion bill.

Separately, lawmakers are still in a standoff over a measure to short-circuit the local wage increase ordinances. A Senate budget plan would retroactively prohibit a minimum wage or benefit requirements that exceed the state standard; a similar provision failed in the House.

Minnesota’s minimum wage is $9.86 for large employers and about $8 for smaller companies. It rises with inflation due to a law change five years ago.

The Minneapolis minimum wage is currently higher, and the first businesses will reach the mandatory $15 in 2022. St. Paul’s phase-in is slower for all but the biggest employers and won’t be universal until 2027.

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