Archive for Wednesday, January 21, 2004

State leader seeks to boost minimum wage

January 21, 2004


— At $2.65 per hour, Kansas has the lowest state minimum wage in the country, and the annual push to increase it has started.

State Rep. Ted Powers, a Mulvane Republican, on Tuesday filed legislation that would increase the state minimum wage to $7.50 per hour during the next three years.

The first step would increase the minimum wage to $5.50 per hour and take effect Jan. 1. There would be $1 per hour increases for each of the next two years with the bill.

"The minimum wage has been shown to be one of the best anti-poverty and economic stimulant tools that we have," Powers said.

The state minimum wage applies to some 26,000 employees not covered by the regulations of the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour.

Powers said the $2.65 per hour rate "shocks the conscience."

Most states, including all those that border Kansas, have adopted the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour as their state minimum.

Eleven states have state minimum wage rates higher than the federal minimum, with Washington state leading the pack at $7.16 per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Seven states have set no specific minimum.

The next lowest to Kansas is Ohio at $4.25 per hour.

Proposals in past years to raise the Kansas wage haven't progressed far.

"Other states have begun to work on this same issue, and it is time Kansas did too," Powers said.

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