Archive for Friday, March 21, 2008

Minimum wage proposal fails

March 21, 2008


Minimum wage proposal defeated at State House

Forty-five states have a state minimum wage rate - Kansas is at the bottom of that list and won't be moving up anytime soon. Enlarge video

How they voted

The vote was on a motion to send to committee a proposal to increase the state minimum wage of $2.65 per hour to the federal minimum wage of $5.85 per hour, and then to follow the federal wage as it increases during the next several years. A "yes" vote was to send it back to committee, which essentially killed the increase. A "no" vote was against sending it back to committee. The proposal was sent back to committee on a 63-58 vote.


Anthony Brown, R-EudoraLee Tafanelli, R-OzawkieKenny Wilk, R-Lansing


Paul Davis, D-LawrenceTom Holland, D-Baldwin CityAnn Mah, D-TopekaTom Sloan, R-Lawrence

Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, was absent.

— A proposal to put Kansas' state minimum wage - the lowest in the nation - on track with the federal minimum wage was defeated Thursday by Republicans in the House.

Republicans attacked the measure on two fronts - saying the state minimum wage was irrelevant because of the higher federal minimum wage, while also saying that the proposed increase would hurt small businesses.

But Democrats argued the state minimum wage of $2.65 per hour was a national embarrassment and disservice to working Kansans.

"If you're willing to work to improve yourself and your family, the law should help you," said House Minority Leader Dennis McKinney, D-Greensburg.

Under the proposal by state Rep. Stan Frownfelter, D-Kansas City, Kan., the state minimum wage would have increased on Sept. 1 to the federal minimum wage of $5.85 per hour, then follow planned federal increases to $6.55 an hour and $7.25 an hour in future years.

Kansas' state minimum wage of $2.65 an hour is at the bottom of the 45 states that have a state rate.

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

A motion to send Frownfelter's proposal back to the House Commerce and Labor Committee was approved 63-58. That essentially killed the measure.

The 63 votes were all Republican, while the 58 votes were cast by Democrats and 12 Republicans.

State Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Bel Aire, and chairman of the committee, voted to refer the measure back to his committee but later said he would have no time this session to consider it.

Brunk said he hasn't allowed a hearing on similar proposals in his committee in the past because he prefers that there be some agreement between various sides on a wage bill.

"There just doesn't seem to be much agreement" on this issue, he said.

Thirty-two states have state minimum wage rates that are more than the federal minimum wage, including Missouri and Colorado. Ten states have minimum wage rates that are the same as the federal rate, including Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Three states have lower rates than the federal rate, and that includes Kansas at $2.65 an hour, and Georgia and Wyoming, both at $5.15 an hour. Five states have no state minimum wage rate - Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina.


KsTwister 10 years ago

Kansas has become one stupid state.

lounger 10 years ago

SLave Labor!! Raise the damn thing already-oh yes you cannot relate up there in the capital so, so far away from the real kansans! For petes sake people get real. These poor minimum wagers are having real trouble keeping their heads above the water!! More scotch anyone???

misseve 10 years ago

That is an obvious sign that they don't give a rats behind about those who don't fall into the fed min. wage standards. Its sad really. How about our lawmakers living on $2.65 an hour without benefits, or state assistance. I am sure they would quickly change their tune.

Ragingbear 10 years ago

Can you expect anything other than idiotic decisions from Republicans? Not now. Not for the last 25-30 years at least. Probably longer.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years ago

Common sense prevails! Those who understand basic economics realize that artifical government wage control pushes more people into poverty than out of it.

The "minimum wage" which helps the most low-income workers is $0.00 per hour.

sweet_child 10 years ago

Does this mean that the service staff in most other states make at least the federal minimum wage rate?

jayhawklawrence 10 years ago

It just emphasizes the point that Kansas Republicans are ideologically driven to the point where they cannot make rational decisions.

That's why their only arguments against Sebelius and the Democrats are always ignorant and hate driven.

Kansas people are smart, strong and practical people. They deserve better leadership. The Republicans are running out of time to make a case for themselves in the next election.

acg 10 years ago

Point, set and match to scenebooster. That was beautiful!!

jumpin_catfish 10 years ago

Tips can amount to far more then min. wage. My mom was paid piece work rate once and made far more then a set wage would have paid her. This is no easy issue because raising it would hurt small business you all know them, the small town mom and pop stores that Lawrence loves sooo much.

kansas778 10 years ago

Don't feel bad for the waitresses making the "paltry" minimum wage. I worked for a few years at a restaurant downtown, and while us cooks were making $7-8 an hour the waitresses complained when they only got $52 in tips from a six hour shift. (So add that to their $2 an hour wage to see that they aren't doing so bad at all). I imagine if the owner was forced to pay the waitstaff more per hour, he would have cut the cook's salaries and had everyone split tips. Ask any waitress in town if they'd rather get a raise but lose half their tips or keep things the same; they'd much rather keep it the same.

jumpin_catfish 10 years ago

Forgot this: if any of you Lawrence business owners think raising the min. wage is a good idea then just give your employees a raise.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years ago

Those on this blog who support wage manipulation by the government are pointlessly focusing on a family's monthly living expenses when instead they should analyze the actual value of work output relative to wages paid.

Just because you want to earn a minimum income, doesn't mean the real-world value of your labor is worth that amount. Quit trying to get other people to pay for your lack of education, experience, time in the work force, mental capacity, etc.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years ago


Like I said before, artificial wages push more people into poverty than out. Your scenario creates many more chances that people will turn to "alternative incomes."

"I believe the general idea is to pay a living wage so as to reduce the dependency on assistance programs" -autie

That is a classic description of subsidy transfer. You want to take people off of government subsidies and put them on employer subsidies. Either way, it's someone else paying for what you can't or won't provide for yourself.

Wage earners need to get educated, get experienced and get trained - either that or get used to earning the wage they are worth.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years ago


You need to get a new comeback, dude. Just because you don't like what I say does not mean your specious argument that I am somehow unintelligent will hold even a drop of water.

You, sir, are the weakest link.

notajayhawk 10 years ago

I spent over 20 years in the restaurant business, most of that as a bartender and/or waiter, in five or six different states. Back then, in any state where I worked, the prevailing minimum wage for tipped employees was 1/2 the federal minimum wage. None of us ever felt we were being shorted, none of us ever asked what the pay rate was when applying for jobs. None of us even paid much attention to our "paycheck," which was an inconsequential part of our compensation. As a matter of fact, it was always a good thing when there was a paycheck coming; as often as not, with the taxes owed on reported tips, we had to pay in, not get paid.

How much we made was pretty much up to us. Yes, there were always the slow days and nights with few customers. And there will always be the stiffs who don't tip no matter how good the service. But overall we made more when we did our jobs better. Even the littlest things like welcoming a customer by name and remembering what they drink made a huge difference in how much went home in our pockets, as opposed to treating the customers like they were a necessary nuisance. In later years, armed with a degree and having moved into management, I typically made far less than the line employees. There are other industries that are similar. Salesman who work on commission come to mind.

On top of all that, the minimum wage is not and has never been intended to be a "living wage." At no time has the minumum wage ever been enough to put a family above the poverty level. Why is it that some people think the minimum wage is supposed to guarantee a person who chooses to drop out of school and make nothing of themselves the ability to maintain a household and raise a family by performing a job that requires minimum or no training, education, or experience?

kansas778 10 years ago

scenebooster (Anonymous) says:

$64 per six hour shift? That would be around $1200 per month if they're working 5 days a week:

That ain't a whole lot of money.

Now imagine how I was doing making $8.25 an hour working those six hour shifts, not as well. Remember, that was a SLOW day like a Tuesday. On a Friday or Saturday the waitstaff could easily take hom $100-150, while I'm still making $8.25 an hour. Most of the waitresses only worked 2 or 3 days a week, and they made as much as I did working 5 days. But you keep feeling sorry for them, I know I didn't because I wised up and got a job waiting tables my last two years of college. Not at a place that was as busy, but I made $10-11 an hour on a regular basis. You say that ain't a whole lot of money, it is for someone without any skills other than the ability to smile and ask what your order is.

HW 10 years ago


Good post. I think that is how a lot of people feel, but are unable to explain it.

Since you seem like you're pretty up front about things, could you give us a ballpark figure of what percentage of your tips you actually claimed on your tax statements? That is if the statute of limitations has passed. ;-)

HW 10 years ago

Minimum wage by state.

Somebody posted above that tip are paid for service, and not to help the servers pay. I would have to say that is only partly true for most folks. For example, I start my tips at 15%. That is because I know they make sh!t for base pay. The tip goes up or down from there, depending on the service I receive. Even if I receive the worst service of my life, I will probably not go much under 7-10%, because I still know they make sh!t for base pay. If the service is bad enough, I just make a comment to the manager and hope it is fixed internally. How many people have a base tip and adjust for service?

toefungus 10 years ago

Politicians have gotten elected by throwing bones to the masses while living high. I have always been amazed at the fight over 5 dollars and hour while CEO's make 1000 times the minimum wage. That was considered destablizing at one time and the wealthy hid how much they made to look more like the customers they served. This whole argument is a suckers discussion.

beawolf 10 years ago

le... You really shouldn't post when your on drugs.

notajayhawk 10 years ago

HW (Anonymous) says:

"Since you seem like you're pretty up front about things, could you give us a ballpark figure of what percentage of your tips you actually claimed on your tax statements?"

The two general rules were 1) what the employer expected (or demanded) that you report, and 2) what the other employees were reporting.

Some employers don't care what you report. They're going to put down a certain percentage of your sales regardless. This is especially true for big corporate employers, like the big chains or hotels. If you really didn't make as much as they said, you can dispute it when you do your tax return, but you have to keep pretty comprehensive records.

What the other employees report is probably a bigger factor. You can't consistently report way under what the other guys are reporting. First, the employers don't believe you, and even if they did, then they wonder how bad the service you're giving is that you're making so little. And you can't consistently report significantly more than the other guys are reporting. That makes you unpopular real fast. Then the employers think the other guys are under-reporting and/or under-performing.

It was my experience that most employees reported just the minimum of what the employer and/or the IRS expected. That includes anything there's a record of (tips that were part of a charge to a credit card or other charge account), plus (if necessary) enough of the cash to make up the minimum the IRS would let you get away with (I think that used to be about 7 or 8 % system-wide).

Note that this actually increases the income for most employees whose income consists of a lot of cash tips. In 20 years I think I only worked one place where the waitstaff actually reported everything they made. Anyone remember the episode of Taxi where Bobby (the actor) went to Louie's high school reunion pretending to be Louie? One of Louie's snobby classmates was bragging about being a waiter at Tavern on the Green or some place like that. He said he made like $50K, but since he only reported and paid taxes on about $20K, his take home was like making over $80K. (Bobby/Louie responded that he was just a poor civil servant - an auditor for the IRS!)

notajayhawk 10 years ago

scenebooster (Anonymous) says:

"Nice condescension, there."

I fail to see what was condescending about k778's statement. He said he did the job himself, he wasn't talking about others he thinks badly of.

I have known many extremely talented and hardworking food service workers. I have also known quite a few who's service skills were hopeless, but as k778 said were friendly and attractive and made a fortune. It's amazing how many men, for instance, don't care how many times the waitress forgets to bring something or screws up the order when there are certain attributes that distract from the poor service.

Liberty 10 years ago

Wonder if there is a list of companies that are just paying the state minimum wage or below the Federal minimum wage? If so, it should be published to publically shame them into paying a fair wage to their employees.

notajayhawk 10 years ago

Liberty (Anonymous) says:

"Wonder if there is a list of companies that are just paying the state minimum wage or below the Federal minimum wage? If so, it should be published to publically shame them into paying a fair wage to their employees.""

The story said something about 19,000 Kansans. I'd bet there's more waiters, bartenders, and other tipped restaurant workers than that. And it wouldn't exactly shame them, since with very, very few exceptions, all the other restuarants are paying the exact same thing.

Try to keep in mind that the people who are getting paid wages of $2.65/hr are actually making more than that. They also receive tips, sales commissions, piece-work rate, etc., and many of those who get paid below the minimum wage are actually doing quite well.

jonas 10 years ago

Crap. It sucks when the pompous jerks are mostly right, because I want to disagree with them for being pompous jerks, but I can't. Bummer.

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