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One of the lowest state minimum wages could soon be one of the highest

Minimum wage hikes have been taking hold in states as a federal proposal languishes. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Under a new deal announced Monday morning, Minnesota could see its minimum wage rise from among the nation’s lowest to one of the highest.

The deal, first reported Sunday by the Star Tribune, would begin incrementally lifting the state’s minimum wage for large employers this summer, hitting $9.50 in 2016. It would begin adjusting for inflation, with a 2.5 percent cap, starting in 2018. Under current law, large employers are required to pay a $6.15 minimum wage. The federal minimum is $7.25. Only Minnesota, Arkansas, Georgia and Wyoming had minimums set below the federal level as of the start of this year.

With approval from the leaders of the Democrat-led state House and Senate, the deal could pass as soon as this week, resolving what has been a contentious debate. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) had already thrown his support behind a House version of a hike. The new minimum wage would be implemented by 2017

Just two weeks ago, Connecticut approved a measure that would lift that state’s minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017, making it the highest state minimum in the nation and matching the level President Obama has pushed for federally. (Others tied to inflation could beat it, however, should the economy take off before then.) Delaware, West Virginia and D.C. have also passed minimum wage increases this year, and 34 states, including Maryland, are considering increases of their own, as of March 31.