Echoing President Obama's call to raise the minimum wage, a group of powerful Minnesota Democratic lawmakers put their backing behind a bill to raise the state's minimum wage to $9.50 an hour.
Minnesota's $6.15 an hour minimum wage is one of just four states with a wage floor that lags behind the current federal rate of $7.25.
In his state of the union speech on Tuesday, Obama pleaded with Congress to raise the federal wage standard.
"Tonight, let’s declare that, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty -- and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour," Obama said.
Both the federal proposal and the state's pitch, sponsored by 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, would add an inflation index to the wage standard. That means, as time goes on, the minimum wage would rise.
Backers say keeping the minimum wage moving would ensure that low-income workers would not be left behind as the goods and services become more expensive; detractors say it would force employers to scale back their work force as paying workers becomes unaffordable.
The state proposal rolled out on Wednesday is one of several pitched by Democrats this year to hike the lowest standard of pay.
Hortman and Tomassoni on Wednesday, backed by a group of religious, union and child advocates, also proposed creating a child tax credit that would go to low and medium income families and bolstering subsidies for child care.
Their plan also has backing from 14 other DFL lawmakers, including House Majority Leader Erin Murphy and Senate Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Hayden are co-sponsors, as are several committee chairs from both the House and Senate.The power of those lawmakers may help elevate the measure's chances.