Gov. Mark Dayton told a group of Muslim leaders Wednesday that he will propose a minimum wage increase of $10 an hour for Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport workers.

“I’m going to urge the Metropolitan Airports Commission to raise the minimum wage to $10 starting immediately,” Dayton said to applause from the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, which met for its annual day at the Capitol. “They deserve it, the airline industry can afford it, and one thing about raising the minimum wage at the airport is it’s not going to be a threat to move to South Dakota or China or somewhere else. It’s our airport, it’s a public facility and it ought to better reflect the values of the citizenry.”

Dayton said afterward that he was inspired by his newest MAC appointee, Ibrahim Mohamed, a married father of five who drives a cart at the airport for minimum wage. Dayton said that as the minimum wage increases to $9 in August, it will still put a family of four below the poverty line. An extra dollar or two an hour makes a difference of thousands of dollars annually.

“These are people that work hard,” he said. “These are people that clean up the airplanes, clean out the restrooms at the airport, drive people around, help people with hardships to get from one place to another. They work very hard and there’s no reason we can’t--the airlines can’t--pay them something that’s closer to a living wage.”

Dayton said he chose $10 because he thought it would be a good starting point, but if MAC wants to make it higher, “I don’t have a problem with that.”

Photo: Gov. Mark Dayton addresses members of the Muslim American Society.

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