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The Massachusetts Senate has voted to increase the state's minimum wage from $8 per hour to $11 by 2016 and tie subsequent increases to inflation.

    The bill, approved by a 32-7 vote, would hike the wage for the state's lowest-paid workers in increments over the next three years, with the new wage kicking in next July.

    After 2016, future increases would be linked to the Consumer Price Index for the Northeast.

    The state's minimum wage has not changed since 2008 and isn't automatically adjusted for inflation.

    State Senator Mark Montigny of New Bedford supported the increase, rejecting arguments that hiking the minimum wage would hurt small businesses...

    The legislation would require the state's minimum wage always be at least 50 cents higher than the federal minimum, which is currently $7.25 per hour.

    Senators also approved an amendment raising the minimum wage for tipped employees to half that of the minimum wage for other workers. The measure now heads to the Mass. House. 

(Associated Press and WBSM News)