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Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bill proposes increasing minimum wage in state

February 20, 2008

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State's minimum wage could be on the rise

Kansas currently has a minimum wage of $2.65 and hour - the lowest in the nation. Enlarge video

On the street

What is the least you’ve ever been paid for a job?

I’ve only had one job, but I get at least $7.50 an hour. I teach piano lessons at Lawrence Piano Studio.

More responses

— If anyone knows what it's like working for low wages, it's college students.

That's why some Kansas University students said Tuesday they would support a proposal before lawmakers to increase the state minimum wage, which is the lowest in the nation.

"For two summers, I worked a job where I was paid the federal minimum wage," said Stephanie Temaat, a KU sophomore from Spearville. "Some money is better than no money, but it was still very hard to live on. I can't imagine people who work full time and try to support a family on minimum wage."

Landon Horstman, a KU freshman making $7.25 an hour at Mrs. E's cafeteria on campus, agreed. "I wouldn't want to live the rest of my life on $7.25 an hour. That wouldn't be a comfortable wage to have."

But while federal minimum wage is $5.85 per hour, Kansas minimum wage is $2.65 per hour and hasn't increased in 20 years.

The state minimum wage affects about 19,000 workers, mostly in service or agricultural jobs, who aren't covered by the federal minimum wage law, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Before the Senate Commerce Committee is Senate Bill 466. It would increase the state minimum wage to track the federal minimum wage when it increases from $5.85 per hour to $6.55 per hour later this year, and to $7.25 per hour in 2009.

At a committee hearing, advocates for the working poor said the state rate was outdated, unjust and an embarrassment.

"It's fair, it's just and something we ought to be doing," said Sen. Roger Reitz, R-Manhattan.

Bob Newsome, chairman of the Riley County Board of Commissioners, said many college students are hurt by the state minimum wage.

"The low wages for low-skilled jobs forces college students to live in poverty while in school and simultaneously encourages them to incur significant student loan debt," he said.

But business lobbyists and a KU professor said attempts to increase the state minimum wage would worsen conditions for workers on the lowest economic rung.

Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, co-chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, said she needed more information on the issue.

"It's important for us to understand the average wage is in the neighborhood of $7 an hour. It begs the question, is the minimum wage even relevant?" Brownlee said.

Ron Hein, a lobbyist with the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association, said increases in the minimum wage cause employers to not hire as many unskilled workers. He suggested getting rid of the state minimum wage altogether.

Arthur Hall, executive director of the Center for Applied Economics at KU's School of Business, said in submitted testimony that "there is general agreement that these (minimum wage) laws do more harm than good" by reducing employment opportunities for young people and those with fewer skills.

But Heidi Zeller, of Lawrence, speaking on behalf of Kansas Action Network, said paying a decent wage helps workers, families and the economy.

She said that after an increase in the federal minimum wage in 1996, "the economy experienced its strongest growth in over three decades."

Comments

rollcar 6 years, 2 months ago

Do people really think that businesses will just take the extra salary expense and say "Aw, shucks"? No, they will gradually raise prices to compensate. Now your purchasing power just decreased at a rate roughly equal to your salary increase. Do you really think if we raised the minimum wage to $100/hour we would all just be rolling in dough? No, we would just be inflating the dollar. It's economics, folks.

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nrvana8775 6 years, 2 months ago

And the prices of things go up as well...

I'm a student, and I think this is a horrible idea. If we had a history of tying the minimum wage to inflation, then I could see this being a good thing. It would just give companies a reason to raise prices even more, and then claim that they can't be competitive at their previous rates. I wish my purchasing power could stay the same :rolls eyes:

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bettie 6 years, 2 months ago

jasonthesane: i can't tell you why, but the federal $2.13 applies. that's what i always made waiting tables in the last few years, anyway.

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georgeofwesternkansas 6 years, 2 months ago

If you are waiting for the government to somehow make your life better I hope you have some serious time to spend. You are responsible for your own happiness, so stop whining and do somthing about it.

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jasonthesane 6 years, 2 months ago

Here's what the US Dept. of Labor has to say about tipped employees:

An employer may pay a tipped employee not less than $2.13 an hour in direct wages if that amount plus the tips received equal at least the federal minimum wage, the employee retains all tips and the employee customarily and regularly receives more than $30 a month in tips. If an employee's tips combined with the employer's direct wages of at least $2.13 an hour do not equal the federal minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference. -- Does anyone know if the $2.65 state wage overrides the federal $2.13?

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toefungus 6 years, 2 months ago

Actually, Kansas does not need any minimum wage. The markets sets wages anyway. If Kansas took the statute off the books, it would be a true leader.

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drake 6 years, 2 months ago

They are supposed to claim their tips, but all of the delivery people and waitstaff that I have ever known only claim a small percentage of what they get.

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jimincountry 6 years, 2 months ago

Wasn't it Lawrence that established a city minimum wage around $10 per hour?

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jrlii 6 years, 2 months ago

A while back a waitress at a major chain restaurant said her entire $2.65/hr wage was withheld to pay the taxes on her tips. On payday she gets a check in the amount of "VOID," with a stub showing how it was distributed amongst the state and federal protection rackets.

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Reality_Check 6 years, 2 months ago

"the state minimum wage, which is the lowest in the nation."

Uh, isn't that reason enough to change it? How much more embarrassment can our state stand?

The state minimum should be set to the federal minimum.

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moderate1 6 years, 2 months ago

Drake, I thought servers had to claim tips as part of their income, I used to deliver pizzas and I claimed all of my tips.The irs audits servers too.

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themiddlechild 6 years, 2 months ago

You know? Some waiters and waitresses make pretty much nothing per hour, but collect tips on top of the hourly wage.

I know of a couple of people who's pay on $2.65/hour but makes over $100 on tips each day, more on weekends.

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bettie 6 years, 2 months ago

Just about every server in town makes $2.65 an hour. True, the ones fortunate enough to work at higher-end places make a pretty good haul when tips are factored in. But talk to the night-shift servers at Steak and Shake, where they're sometimes lucky to get a couple of tables, or the ones working at restaurants where the tabs are always small. I've worked at both ends of the spectrum and can tell you there are a lot of servers in town who go home with about $10 most days.

The reporting of the tips they do make often result in enough taxes being taken out of their miniscule check that it's reduced to $0.

If you want to look into it a little further, think about the fact that a typical restaurant shift is, at most, 6 hours long. Most of these employees, then, don't regularly get 30 hours per week and don't qualify for their companies' insurance programs.

In an attempt to pre-empt the inevitable the "why don't those people just find a better paying job if it's so bad" argument, I'd like to point out how few options there are for students and parents (especially single ones) with young children, given their schedules. Kudos to those willing to do what they can, even when the results are not what they should be.

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drake 6 years, 2 months ago

That was my point johngalt. I'm sorry I wasn't more clear.

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js02 6 years, 2 months ago

You know? Some waiters and waitresses make pretty much nothing per hour, but collect tips on top of the hourly wage.

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johngalt 6 years, 2 months ago

Drake,

Market places work. Just b/c some employees aren't covered by the minimum wage, doesn't mean they aren't making more than that.

Someone, anyone please find someone in Kansas who is making $2.65.

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drake 6 years, 2 months ago

tanzer- Do you personally know anyone who works for $2.65 an hour? There are not 19,000 people who work for it, there are 19,000 jobs that are not covered by the federal minimum wage.

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Jackie Jackasserson 6 years, 2 months ago

Brownlee - the actual minimum wage is probably relevant to the 19,000 people who work for it. Smacks of cake eating in Brownlee's camp. She must not have to wade through cow poop for 2.65 an hour over there in Olathe.

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