Emmer: Count employees' tips towards minimum wages

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Tom Emmer said the state could gain jobs if employers could a pay a lower hourly wage to employees who earn a lot of money from tips.

He stopped by the Eagle Street Grille in St. Paul Monday morning, saying government needs to listen to businesses about reducing regulatory burdens and adding jobs.

"With the tips that they get to take home, they are some people earning over $100,000 a year. More than the very people providing the jobs and investing not only their life savings but their families' future," Emmer said.

Emmer said some well-tipped Eagle Street Grille employees are among those making more than $100,000 a year. But one of the grille's owners said only a "couple" of his 45 or so servers make that much in a good year.

Emmer didn't say how low a minimum wage should be for tipped employees. Federal law permits states to drop the minimum wage for tipped employees to $2.13 per hour.

Minnesota currently requires a state minimum wage of $5.25 for small employers and $6.15 for large employers, based on annual sales.

Emmer also argued government needs to reduce its paperwork, regulatory and tax burdens on businesses. He said government needs to be a better resource for businesses and much less of a regulator.

"Government can only inhibit business, can only keep it from growing, as opposed to creating jobs," he said. "Right now, we have too much of it, guys. We've got to pull government back."

Emmer is currently touring the state, talking with small business owners.