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Poll: Many Minnesotans for minimum wage hike; some say $9.50 too much

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A new Minnesota Poll by the Star Tribune finds that Minnesotans are overwhelmingly in favor of a hike in the state's minimum wage, yet are split on what that minimum should be.

According to the poll, 42 percent of state residents say the time has come to raise the minimum to $9.50 an hour, which is the amount supported by Gov. Mark Dayton and House leaders. However, another 37 percent say while they support a boost above the current minimum of $6.15, they don't believe it should go up to $9.50.

The poll says 16 percent of Minnesotans believe the minimum should stay at $6.15, which is below the federal minimum of $7.25.

Politically, 64 percent of Democrats backed an increase to $9.50, while another 27 percent said it should be increased, but by less. Among Republicans, the poll said 58 percent supported an increase in the minimum, but only 14 percent backed an increase to $9.50. The poll also found 36 percent of Republicans wanted the minimum to stay at $6.15.

Among Independents, 85 percent favored an increase in the minimum wage, the poll says.

The poll comes just ahead of a new session of the Legislature, where a bill to increase the minimum fell short last year. Senate Democrats last year backed a hike to $7.75, considerably lower than what their House colleagues proposed.

Dayton and his supporters have vowed they will continue fighting for an increase to $9.50 by 2015.

The proposed boost to a minimum of $9.50 also has the support of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. WCCO says both mayors earlier this month joined a rally in support of the increase at the state capitol.

The mayors’ push for the increase came after President Barack Obama’s plea last month to raise the federal minimum to $10.10 per hour, citing St. Paul-based Punch Pizza owner John Serrano as an example for the country’s small business owners.

Meanwhile, a group of state lawmakers are getting ready to live for the next week on the state's current minimum wage.

MinnPost reports Democratic Reps. Karen Clark (Minneapolis), Frank Hornstein (Minneapolis), John Lesch (St. Paul), Jason Metsa (Virginia) and Shannon Savick (Wells) are taking part in the so-called Minimum Wage Challenge. Normally, a salary for a Minnesota state legislator is $31,140 a year (based on a 40-hour work week, the wage would be about $14.97 an hour).

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