Minnesota state DFL lawmakers on Wednesday called for a minimum wage increase, from $7.25 to $9.50, the Star Tribune reports.
The bill has the support of influential lawmakers, including its sponsors Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park and a speaker pro tempore, and Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm and the chair of the Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Finance Division, the newspaper notes.
Minnesota is one of four states that officially have set the minimum wage below the federal level of $7.25, although businesses in the state are required to pay workers the federal minimum.
Here's an interactive map that shows minimum wage rates in the states. Nineteen states have minimum wages that are higher than the federal rate; 22 states have the same rate as the federal minimum.
The federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009. President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, called for an increase of the rate to $9 an hour.
Obama said, "This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. And a whole lot of folks out there would probably need less help from government. In fact, working folks shouldn’t have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher."
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Huffington Post that he was "very grateful the president focused on income inequality." He said he supports the hike and believes it should be even higher than $9.
Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., is among the critics who said the proposal would hurt small businesses, Huffington reported. In a recent commentary, Michael Saltsman, research director of the Employment Policies Institute, explains why the change would deal a blow to Minnesota restaurants.