Dayton wants minimum wage up to at least $9.50 per hour

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Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that he'd be disappointed if the Legislature doesn't raise the state's minimum wage next session.

Dayton made the remarks to a retiree council of the AFL-CIO, the Associated Press reports. He also said he'd settle for an increase to $9.50 per hour.

"The $9.50 is in line with what I've said for years -- a living wage, which enables somebody who's working full time to make an income that would permit her or him to keep a family of four at the poverty level," Dayton said in an Minnesota Public Radio report last week.

The state’s current minimum wage is $5.25 an hour for employees of small companies (grossing less than $625,000 in sales annually) and $6.15 an hour for larger companies. Most workers at that level qualify for the federal rate of $7.25.

A coalition of labor, faith and community groups called "Raise the Wage," renewed their lobbying campaign at the state fair to lift the state's minimums.

Last spring, the House and Senate could not agree on how large an increase to implement. The House voted for an increase to $9.50 an hour over two years, while the Senate went with $7.75 an hour.

Minnesota has long had one of the lower minimum wages in the country, according to a Washington Post blog.

Eric Ostermeier, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota, told the Post that part of the reason for the lower-than-average wage is that Minnesota is one of just seven states that do not include a so-called tip credit.

A tip credit allows employers to pay a lower wage if employees make up the difference in gratuities.

MPR reported many business groups oppose an increase, and many restaurant owners are still pushing for an allowance to pay a lower minimum wage to their employees who collect tips.

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