Topeka For at least the third year in a row, a proposal to increase the Kansas state minimum wage of $2.65 an hour which is now the lowest in the nation was rejected by lawmakers.
An amendment debated in the House would have allowed the State Finance Council, which includes the governor and legislative leaders, to set the state minimum wage at the federal level, now $5.15 per hour.
The state minimum wage applies to more than 25,000 employees in Kansas not covered by the regulations of the federal minimum wage. Often waiters, waitresses and disabled employees working for companies not involved in interstate commerce receive less than the federal minimum wage, according to the amendment's sponsor, Rep. Candy Ruff, D-Leavenworth.
Supporters of raising the Kansas minimum wage said working families cannot make ends meet on such low pay, and ultimately seek state assistance, which is a burden on middle-income taxpayers.
The measure was rejected 72-50, with all 72 votes against it coming from Republicans. Forty-four Democrats and six Republicans voted for it.
Now, Kansas' rate is the lowest among states, and lower than minimum wages paid in Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Staff writer Scott Rothschild can be reached at (785) 354-4222.