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Minimum wage bill vaults Minn. far up pay scale

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The bill giving Minnesota one of the nation's highest minimum wages is one step from Gov. Mark Dayton.

Minnesota senators voted 35-31 Wednesday to push the minimum wage for most employers to $9.50 per hour by summer 2016. It's $6.15 now.

The raises come in three steps, starting with a bump to $8 this August.

Minnesota has one of the lowest wages now. When fully phased in, the new wage could be in the top five. Washington state currently leads at $9.32 per hour, but Connecticut and Maryland are on course to get to $10.10 within a few years.

Minnesota's rate would be linked to inflation, providing annual raises from 2018 forward. If economic conditions deteriorate, a gubernatorial administration could suspend the escalator.

A House vote is expected by Thursday.

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