As you go about your shopping this holiday season, take a step back to look critically at the working environment of the employees at those stores. Are workers getting paid a livable wage?
Yesterday, we released a new report: Made in Minnesota 2013: Fair Retail Wages Strengthen Local Economies. Here are a few highlights from Sunday's press conference.
Taking care of people with disabilities and the elderly is a difficult and important job. Many do it out a feeling of service, others do it because it's a passion. But for too long the pay for these workers has remained flat. This legislative session, disability advocates are kicking off the 5% campaign, asking legislators for a 5% increase in there pay. The hope is this will provide enough for the workers to stay out of poverty and curb the high turnover rate among this workforce, which is tough on the people they serve.
Occupy Homes marched to let banks know that home foreclosure is not the way. If bankers and homeowners could come together they can stop the rate of foreclosed homes in the Twin Cities. Many people in Minnesota are homeless, yet we continue to have vacant homes for families to live in.
Minimum wage has done a terrible job keeping up with the cost of basic living. At $7.25 an hour, both parents in a family of four would have to work around 80 hours each to meet their family's needs. That's if they can each find 80 hours of work. Nearly half of the jobs vacancies in Minnesota currently are part time, according to DEED's latest job vacancy survey. And many of the new post-recession jobs are in low-wage fields.
That's why a broad coalition of faith, labor, service organizations, and nonprofits are pushing to raise Minnesota's minimum wage to $9.50. This week at a South Minneapolis recreation center, coalition members and low-wage workers met with Minnesota policy leaders to discuss ways forward.
This week, a broad coalition of faith, labor and nonprofits kicked off its campaign to Raise the Wage at the Minnesota State Fair. Low wage workers and some small business people are urging policy makers to raise Minnesota's minimum wage to $9.50 by 2015, from the current $7.25.
Over the weekend hundreds of Minnesotans converged on North Minneapolis to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's march on Washington for jobs and justice. While progress has been made, we are still working toward many of the rights marchers originally fought for, education equity access to jobs, and economic opportunity.
Posted in News & Notes
Workers at Cretex Concrete in Shakopee— on strike since June—got a huge boost today from their union's North American president. Terry O'Sullivan of LiUNA came to town with a pledge of support and a $25,000 check for the strike fund. Laborers from Local 563 went on strike after they say the company failed to compromise on how they will fund pension plans in the new contract. The company wants to move from contributing to the Laborers pension fund to a 401K plan. It's a move that the union says could cost workers up to 80 in future pension benefits.
In a show of solidarity for the greats who inspire them, young Minnesota orchestral musicians held a protest concert in front of U.S. Bank's downtown Minneapolis building. They hoped to gain bank CEO Richard Davis' attention. He's also the Minnesota Orchestra chair helping lead contract negotiations, which have left players locked out since the fall. The young players want Davis to end the lock out before this action against labor does permanent damage to the orchestra and Minnesota's classical music scene.
In 2011, about half of Minnesotans who rented qualified for the renters’ property tax refund (PTR). As noted previously, the renters’ (PTR) is the single most efficient program in state law for reducing the regressivity of Minnesota’s state and local tax system. However, conservatives cut $26 million from the program in the 2011 special session to protect the the state's richest from paying their fair share in taxes.
This week Minnesota 2020 Hindsight has featured a series of maps highlighting various aspects of Minnesota’s renters’ PTR program. Previous installations have featured maps showing the average renters’ PTR payment by county and the percentage of renters’ PTR recipients that are seniors or people with disabilities.
Today’s map shows the percentage of rental households in each Minnesota county that receive the renters’ PTR based on 2011 data from the Minnesota Department of Revenue and the U.S. Census Bureau as calculated by Minnesota 2020. The definition of “households” used in these two sources do not align perfectly and thus there is a degree of imprecision in the percentages displayed in this map. Nonetheless, the map should give a good approximation of the percentage of rental households receiving the renters’ PTR in each of the 87 Minnesota counties.
The percentage of renter households receiving the PTR ranges from 21.1 percent in Mahnomen County to 69.7 percent in Sherburne County. On a statewide basis, approximately one-half of all renter household qualify for the renters’ PTR in 2011.
Governor Dayton has demonstrated his support for fair taxation by including a funding increase for the renters' PTR in his revised budget. In addition, six different bills introduced during the 2013 legislative session would restore at least a portion of the renters’ PTR cut made during the 2011 session. These bills accomplish this either by increasing the percentage of rent attributable to property taxes, modifying the definition of income used to determine the PTR eligibility and payments, making changes to co-pay percentages, maximum PTR payments, or income thresholds, or by some combination of the above. These bills include:
• House File 2 (chief author: Davnie)
• House File 24 (chief author: Mullery)
• House File 126 (chief author: Faust)
• House File 333 (chief author: Davnie)
• House File 1647 (chief author: Loeffler)
• Senate File 140 (chief author: Dziedzic)
Legislators of all political persuasions support—at least in theory—reducing taxes on low income households. During the 2013 legislative session, members of the Minnesota House and Senate will have the opportunity to put their words into action by supporting any one of several bills that will replace a portion of previous cuts to the renters’ property tax refund.
In 2011, conservative legislators successfully advocated for a $26 million cut in the renters' property tax refund (PTR). This is yet another example of conservative policy shifting taxes to those least able to pay in an effort to protect the richest from paying their fair share. Anti-tax legislators should remember that when they cut funding for progressive tax relief programs like the renters' PTR, they're raising taxes on low-income Minnesotans, many of whom are elderly or people with disabilities.
A recently released Minnesota Budget Project report, “Who Receives the Renters’ Credit” (based on Minnesota Department of Revenue data), contains information on the impact of the renters' PTR for each Minnesota county. As the map below shows, in most counties over a third of taxpayers receiving the PTR are seniors or Minnesotans with disabilities.
The percentage of renters’ PTR recipients who are seniors or Minnesotans with disabilities range from a high of 65.3 percent in Traverse County to 22.9 percent in Dakota County. On a statewide basis, 29 percent of all renters’ PTR recipients are seniors or people with disabilities.
An earlier Minnesota 2020 map shows the average refund by county. These are modest refunds to help offset taxes on rental properties for low-income Minnesotans. This legislative session, bills are working their way through the legislature to payback a portion of the PTR cuts.
This post is the second in a three part series featuring maps that highlight various aspects of the renters’ property tax refund program. (read part 1) The last installment in this series will include a link to bills before the Minnesota legislature that will restore a portion of the funds cuts from the renters’ PTR in 2011.