Post by Kathleen Lohmar Exel, Foundation Director
August was Healthcare Day and the class was able to look at Healthcare Systems through an Equity Lens. Bruce Thao, Director of the Center for Health Equity & Office of Minority & Multicultural Health, as the keynote speaker and he framed the day with the question of: Minnesota is consistently ranked as the one of the healthiest states in the nation, but healthiest for whom? Much like opportunity gaps for minority populations exist for students in school and minority populations are incarcerated at a higher rate than the Caucasian population, those same gaps exist in healthcare and accessing the system. In addition to studying the system from an Equity lens, the class also toured the HealthPartners Neuroscience Center, and discussed how finding a sense of belonging influences health, how nature and physical/built enviroments impact health, and did a case study on how the system is addressing the Opioid Crisis. It was an extremely informative and engaging day from start to finish. Speaking of finish, the class enjoyed another great visit to Brunson’s Pub, owned by Thomas LaFleche and Molly Murphy (LSP 2017).
We’re grateful to Kari Willey of HealthPartners (LSP 2015) for chairing the day and to her committee of Ann Brombach, HealthPartners & Erin Bursch, Children’s Hospital Association (both of LSP 2016) and Marnie Falk, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare & Sarah Johnson, Regions Hospital (both of LSP 2017). No LSP Day would happen without the talent and dedication of the Chairs and committee volunteers—Thank you!
The Citizens League Minimum Wage Study Committee met on Thursday, August 16, 2018 for their last meeting at University of St. Thomas. Check out last week’s recap on the thirteenth meeting here if you missed it.
The committee started the meeting discussing their thoughts and comments on last week’s meeting. A concerned member opened the discussion on tip credit and encouraged members to look at the tip adjustment more deeply. Another concerned member reminded the committee that the restaurant and beverage industry is a very broad business and that its value to our economy should not be overlooked. Other members commented based on their experience and the past week’s findings, as well as their overall experience with this process to date.
Thomas Durfee presented his final research to the committee on employment and earnings effects of minimum wage tiers. Thomas updated his input on the benefits cliff “if a family is on MFIP, they automatically skip the waiting list” to receive other benefits such as CCAP. Cities and counties can contribute dollars to their own CCAP. Last, working students under the age of 18 do not count towards CCAP, energy assistance, Section 8, or SNAP eligibility. Thomas updated his research on wage tiers for workers with a disability and reported there are no studies that discussed minimum or subminimum wage specifically. Instead, the studies he has found have focused on discrimination based on disability status. Based on two scholarly publications on tips and employment, Thomas reported economists have serious debates on the effects of earned tips and hours for full service workers. Click here to see Thomas Durfee’s research update.
The Citizens League staff reviewed the committee’s past week of homework, that included drafting potential scenarios for consideration and voting during this final meeting. Members discussed their concerns about implementation of a proposed ordinance, among them being: the phase-in time, how businesses would comply, how and in what capacity the City will be able to provide enforcement, Other concerns were raised about more specifics in proposed recommendations: disability workers, youth workers, seasonal workers, micro businesses, revenue vs head count to determine a business size. The committee largely agreed that they simply did not have enough time to delve deeply enough into all the issues, which left them feeling somewhat hampered in their ability to be more specific in recommendations.
After significant discussion and subsequent whittling down of scenarios on which the committee would vote, three scenarios remained on the table and all will be advanced into the final report. Citizens League staff will send a draft for committee review/approval prior to submission to the City by the deadline, August 31.
The meeting ended with closing remarks. Co-Chairs B Kyle and Rick Varco thanked everyone for participating in the study task force. They gave special thanks to the Office of Mayor Melvin Carter, Office of Council Member Chris Tolbert, and the Citizens League.
The finalized report is due on August 31, 2018.
The third session is scheduled for Saturday, September 15 from 9:00 AM - 11:15 AM at the Hmong Elders Center located at 1337 Rice Street, Saint Paul, MN 55117. RSVP here. Share on Facebook here.
The fourth session is scheduled for Thursday, September 20 from 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM at the Palace Community Center located at 781 Palace Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55102. RSVP here. Share on Facebook here.
The Citizens League Minimum Wage Study Committee met on Thursday, August 9, 2018, at the University of St. Thomas. Check out last week’s recap on the 12th meeting here if you missed it.
The committee reflected and debriefed on last week’s meeting. Members shared their concerns on the short amount of time they have left.
Thomas Durfee’s research update to the committee was a progress report on Wage Compression, the Benefits Cliff, and Firm Size. Wage Compression is “when the distribution of wages within a firm is closer together” and it matters to minimum wage because “Distribution may be a goal. High compression means more equality and low compression means less room for change.” Thomas disclosed to the committee that the case studies he reviewed were small sample sizes. Which is unfortunate and revealed that there is a necessity for more research and data on wage compression before and after effects.
Thomas then moved on to the next update: understanding the benefits cliff. Programs to consider are: Medicaid, Section 8, Child Care Assistant Program (CCAP), and Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). For the sake of time, Thomas broke down the information from Children’s Defense Fund into hypothetical situations, based on Ramsey County cutoffs, and household eligibility vs benefits actually received. Overall, assuming there is a phase-in to $15/hr minimum wage, the vast majority will lose their benefits gradually starting at approximately $13/hr, while ramp-ups to significant benefits takes more time. Only a small niche would be in a better financial position than they are today -- primarily a single with no children. Committee members pointed out that housing expense was not reflected in the graph, though it can have significant impact on the benefits cliff. Another concerning issue in the hypothetical household scenarios was that families making a $15 minimum wage may be better off, assuming they actually are receiving the benefits for which they are eligible. That is not always the reality. Due to time constraints, firm size and tips were not discussed. Click here to see Thomas’s progress report on wage compression, benefits cliff, and firm size.
Prior to the meeting, the committee members were given homework to analyze and propose various minimum wage scenarios. During the remainder of this meeting, then, the submitted write-ups were presented to the committee and voted on anonymously. The intent was to identify potential areas of agreement across the committee members and where, perhaps, the widest gaps in agreement would be identified. The proposed scenarios addressed the main areas of focus: is $15/hr minimum wage the right number and should it be indexed to inflation (or not); various versions of a proposed tip adjustment (or not); proposed exemptions; and a wide range of potential phase-in time periods.
Next week is the last meeting of the $15 Minimum Wage Study Committee, during which the committee will review and complete their recommendations on minimum wage for the City of Saint Paul. Questions and requests for additional meetings were requested, but the Citizens League is scheduled to deliver its final report on August 31. There will be an opportunity for formal public input following that date. Stay tuned for details in the coming weeks.