Does Minnesota need a higher minimum wage?

Barbara Johnson, owner of Lyle's Cafe in Winthrop, Minn., speaks in support of a bill to raise Minnesota's minimum wage during a news conference Monday, April 29, 2013 at the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. A minimum wage debate is expected to be reheated when state lawmakers return for the start of the 2014 legislative session. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

“A minimum wage debate is expected to heat up again next year when state lawmakers return for the start of the 2014 legislative session,” writes MPR News reporter Tim Pugmire.

“The state minimum wage is $6.15 an hour, but most workers earn at least the federal minimum of $7.25. Democrats in charge of the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton’s office want workers to be paid more, but to pass a bill they will have to find a number they can agree on — which proved to be surprisingly elusive at the close of the 2013 session.”

The House passed a bill to set the rate at $9.50 an hour by 2015, with automatic future increases based on inflation. But the Senate passed legislation to increase the minimum wage to $7.75 an hour by 2015. To reach a compromise next session, House and Senate negotiators will have to close the wide gap.

State Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, the chief sponsor of the House bill, said that could happen quickly because a minimum wage bill would not require new committee hearings or a new floor vote. Winkler said a worthwhile increase must be substantial and significant, and he’s convinced the House position, or something close to it, will ultimately prevail.

“Just raising it a little bit and saying that our work is done and leaving it alone for a number of years will really not deliver much of a benefit to the average Minnesota worker,” he said. “So when we’re talking about a $9.50 minimum wage and giving a raise to 360,000 Minnesota workers, I think the Senate will eventually see that a significant minimum wage increase will be good for the economy and good for the state.”

Today’s Question: Does Minnesota need a higher minimum wage?