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Published February 19, 2014, 09:47 PM

Minnesota minimum wage debate ramps up again

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The debate over raising the minimum wage has started up again in Minnesota. A Moorhead Council Woman is trying to see if she can live on a minimum wage budget for one week.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The debate over raising the minimum wage has started up again in Minnesota. A Moorhead Council Woman is trying to see if she can live on a minimum wage budget for one week.

This session, Democrats in the Minnesota legislature will continue their push for a statewide minimum wage of $9.50 per hour. The current minimum in Minnesota is $6.15, but most use the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Some - including many small business owners - don't think it's a good idea.

A trip to the grocery store today was a bit different for Heidi Durand. She skipped right past the fresh fruits and veggies she usually buys, opting instead for cheaper options.

Heidi Durand - Moorhead City Council: "It was very disappointing to have to spend a bulk of my money on products that contain 35% of the daily allowance for sodium."

It was a sacrifice she says she had to make, with only $35 to spend on food for the week. Durand is taking part in the "Minimum Wage Challenge," a week-long experiment among Minnesota leaders pushing for an increased minimum wage. She says she hopes it starts a conversation.

Heidi Durand: "$7.25 minimum wage is not a lot of money. When you think about one person and $35 a week, you think, 'Well that's not too bad, I could do it.' Well, we'll see."

Those pushing for the increase say that if people are making more they are also spending more locally, but not everyone is on board.

Troy Deleon - Moorhead DQ Owner: "I personally don't like it. I don't think it's fair to small business. Everything is pushed onto the small business."

Troy Deleon is preparing to open the Moorhead Dairy Queen he and his wife own in a couple weeks. He says employees there typically make minimum wage for only a short time. They get raises with experience and responsibility.

Last time there was a big minimum wage jump, he bumped up pay for everybody, saying it's not fair for an incoming employee to get paid the same as those who have put in years of hard work.

Troy Deleon: "That was $2; that's a huge jump. What they want to do again is another $2. We've put a lot of that on ourselves. We didn't adjust our prices. But this time, I mean, it's going to have to."

This debate is also raging at the federal level. President Obama said in his State of the Union address that he will take executive action to raise the minimum wage to $10.10.

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