The Minnesota Senate on Wednesday approved a minimum wage hike that could give 200,000 a raise.
The measure, passed on a 39-28 vote, would raise the minimum wage to $7.75 an hour by 2015.
"Where I live, there are a lot of people who are making the minimum wage and they’re doing that to make ends meet," said Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis.
The Senate's proposal would give low wage workers a 50-cent jump in pay over the current $7.25 per hour federal minimum when fully phased in by 2015.
Minnesota law currently dictates a $6.15 minimum per hour for large employers but, because it is lower than the federal standard, most businesses are required to pay employees at least $7.25 an hour.
Last week, the Minnesota House approved a plan to increase the hourly standard to $9.50 an hour by 2015.
On Wednesday, Gov. Mark Dayton said that he preferred the House version but would sign the Senate version if that was the only option.
“Something is better than nothing," the governor said. “But,” he added, “I’d be very disappointed.”
Union groups, which are key advocates for lifting the minimum wage and important DFL allies, have made clear they prefer the House version.
The House version would not only require a higher pay hike, it would also automatically increase the minimum wage as the cost of living increases. The Senate version does not include that wage inflator.
On Wednesday, Republicans argued that if the minimum wage rises beyond the federal minimum Minnesotans would lose their jobs.
“What this is a poverty bill,” said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R- Lino Lakes. “It’s another bill of false hope and false promises.”