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Raising Minnesota's Minimum Wage to $9.50 an Hour?

PHOTO: An increase in the minimum wage is among the proposals being debated at the State Capitol in St. Paul. Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society
PHOTO: An increase in the minimum wage is among the proposals being debated at the State Capitol in St. Paul. Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society
January 14, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. - With the 2013 Legislature in session, another push is under way at the state Capitol to raise the minimum wage in Minnesota. One proposal would hike the minimum to $9.50 an hour for large employers. That plan is supported by a broad coalition of groups, including Children's Defense Fund Minnesota.

Legislative affairs and advocacy director Alexandra Fitzsimmons says that, by supporting working families, it also has a positive impact on the kids.

"We know that children from families who have sufficient financial resources are far more likely than children from economically-disadvantaged families to succeed in school and later in life, and so what this legislation does is, it really focuses on strengthening the economic security of families."

The minimum wage in Minnesota is currently $7.25 an hour, which is the national rate.

Another priority for the Children's Defense Fund is bringing a child focus to the Minnesota Family Investment Program. Fitzsimmons says that would include repealing the newborn baby cap. That law went into effect in 2003 and means any baby born after a mother is receiving assistance is not recognized for the cash benefit, although the child does count for the food benefit.

Fitzsimmons says they also want the Legislature to review how cash assistance for MFIP is calculated. The formula hasn't been changed in more than 25 years and currently a family of three receives $532 a month.

"And that has to cover a lot of things, and for two-thirds of families it also has to cover their housing expenses, in addition to clothing and transportation. So, when we're looking at trying to help move families not only out of poverty, but to financial security, we have to be looking at the programs that are serving our families when they have the greatest need."

And Fitzsimmons says they also want to put a priority on improving how state systems work together for the good of Minnesota's children.

"Many young children who are really most vulnerable to experiences that can harm their capacity to be ready for school success are already in our public system, so we know where these children are."

About 15 percent of Minnesota's children, numbering nearly 200,000, are currently living in poverty.

The bill as previously proposed can be found at revisor.mn.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN