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State Senate votes to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $9.20 an hour

A bill to raise Michigan’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $9.20 an hour by 2017 has cleared the state Senate.

The bill is really an attempt by Republicans in Lansing to kill a petition drive that would raise the minimum wage to 10.10 an hour – including for tipped workers.

“I was afraid that, if this ballot proposal was passed, that it would be detrimental to the work we’ve done the last three years,” said Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, who sponsored the bill. “So, it’s kind of a compromise. We’re taking a step in that direction, but we’re not jumping off the cliff.”

“What we did was we replaced it. And I think what we came up with was a far better answer to the question than what was being proposed.”

Under Senate Bill 934, tipped workers making the minimum wage would also get an 85-cent raise. The minimum wage for both tipped and non-tipped workers would be tied to inflation after 2017. That’s unless the state’s unemployment rate rises above 10%.

Any yearly increase in the minimum wage could not exceed 4%.

A previous version of the bill would have set the minimum wage at $8.15 an hour, and $2.93 for tipped workers.

Democratic candidate for governor Mark Schauer has been calling for a similar increase in the state’s minimum wage. He personally thanked Richardville for passing the bill in front of reporters Thursday after the vote.

“Thank you, Randy. Great job today. Congratulations,” he told the Republican leader.

“We are better in Michigan than having people work full time and living in poverty,” Schauer told reporters minutes earlier. “$7.40 an hour is a poverty wage. $8.15, which was introduced last week, is a poverty wage. This is a significant increase.”

But the bill has also drawn criticism from both political parties.

Some Democrats still oppose the legislation. They say it does not go far enough.

And a spokesperson for House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, says he has “grave concerns” about raising the state’s minimum wage.

The bill now goes to the state House.

The Raise Michigan campaign says the measure will not stop it from turning in its petition signatures.