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Minimum wage backers say better pay means better health

ST. PAUL - Better wages mean better health, supporters of a higher Minnesota minimum wage bill said Monday as House and Senate negotiators continue to work on the measure.

“This is a moral issue about how we as a community, as a society, support healthy families," said the Rev. Paul Slack, president of a religious coalition known as ISAIAH. "I believe everyone deserves the opportunity to be healthy, but when we pay people low wages we are saying they don’t deserve that opportunity.”

Higher incomes, according to a state Health Department report, are associated with “increased life expectancy, lower rates of disabilities, lower rates of chronic physical and mental health conditions, lower rates of certain behaviors that can compromise health, and greater access to health insurance and health care.”

Negotiators worked on the minimum wage bill Monday afternoon and are expected to decide soon on a final version. Last year, the House approved a $9.50-an-hour measure, while senators backed a bill upping the wage to $7.75 from the current $6.15.

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