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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Capitol Report: Minimum wage, precious metals, and ending balance

February 18, 2013

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— Last week, Democratic legislative leaders unveiled their agenda, which included an increase in the state minimum wage, which is the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

The next day, President Barack Obama called for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour and then indexing it to inflation.

But it wasn't too long ago, Kansas had the lowest state minimum wage in the nation at $2.65 per hour.

In 2009, the Legislature approved a bill that raised the state minimum wage to the federal level after it had been stuck at $2.65 since 1988. Labor officials had estimated at the time that about 19,000 Kansans were earning below the federal minimum wage.

Democrats had long fought for the increase in the state minimum wage, but it had been stymied by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Republicans.

In 2009, however, several Republican legislators said they were tired of being criticized for the $2.65 per hour minimum and pushed, along with Democrats and fair-wage advocates, for the increase.

Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, was the sponsor of the bill calling for the increase.

Investing in precious metals

Dan Widder, a city councilman in Ulysses, testified in favor of Senate Bill 130, which would allow local government entities to invest in precious metals, such as gold and silver.

Before the Senate Ethics, Elections and Local Government Committee, Widder said local governments need a hedge against inflation amid a shaky world economy and deficit spending by the United States government. He noted that Russia and China were buying a lot of gold.

But bankers and former House Speaker Doug Mays, who also served as Kansas securities commissioner, said allowing local governments to invest in precious metals was too risky.

Committee Chairman Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha, said the bill needed a lot of work before the committee would consider it.

Keeping options open

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, raised some eyebrows at his weekly news conference when he said maintaining a 7.5 percent ending balance wasn't a priority for him.

"You have to keep all options open," Merrick said.

State law requires the state have a 7.5 percent balance at the end of the fiscal year. The mark has been sidestepped many times, but recently Republicans have made it a top priority.

But the budget is getting tighter as Gov. Sam Brownback's tax plan takes on more water. His proposals to remove popular homeowner deductions, and keep the sales tax high past its expiration date are not resonating with his fellow Republicans.

That means the ending balance may have to be lowered so those funds can be used to pay for items in the budget.

Merrick said he would like to maintain the 7.5 percent ending balance but added lowering that figure has to be an option.

Quote of the week:

"Target prayer for dark spiritual areas of SE Kansas, Lawrence, KCKS, North Johnson County — ask God to restore the land." From a prayer list compiled by Dave DePue, volunteer pastor for Capitol Commission.

What's Next:

Monday

10:30 a.m. — Consideration of budget subcommittee reports on higher education, including Kansas University, before Senate Ways and Means Committee, room 548-South.

3:30 p.m. — Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little testifying to House Education Budget Committee, room 281-North.

3:30 p.m. — Hearing on House Bill 2202, relating to exercise of religion, before House Judiciary, room 112-North

Wednesday

8:30 a.m. — Hearing on Senate Bill 149, drug screening for recipients of cash assistance and unemployment benefits, before Senate Commerce Committee, room 548-South.

9 a.m. — Hearing on House Bill 2253, abortion restrictions, before House Federal and State Affairs Committee, room 346-South.

1:30 p.m. — Hearing on House Bill 226, enacting special needs scholarship program, before House Education Committee, room 112-North

Thursday

9 a.m. — Hearing on House Bill 2055, expanding concealed carry of guns, before House Federal and State Affairs Committee, room 346-South.

Comments

Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 2 months ago

According to the SBA:

Small firms: • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms. • Employ half of all private sector employees. • Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll. • Generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years. • Create more than half of the nonfarm private GDP.

Please stop repeating that Target and WalMart will be the only businesses taking a hit. Above are the facts, not make believe. Small businesses who work on limited margins will be the businesses who take a hit. WalMart can afford to pay more, downtown Lawrence businesses can not.

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Armstrong 1 year, 2 months ago

I don't suppose any of the enlightened have realized raising the minimum wage is a pass through expense that ends up in cost of goods. Nah, didn't think so

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 2 months ago

Why don't all you minimum wage types, take your money and invest in a business, then have the government tell you who (What gender, color, or disability) you HAVE to hire, then enjoy them telling you how MUCH you HAVE to pay them. What days you have to let them have off with pay, you have to provide them medical insurance, while all the time watching over half of them slack, while you are trying to get enough together to pay corporate taxes so almost half the population does not have to work... God Bless America

1

Stain 1 year, 2 months ago

Minimum wage was worth over $10 in the 1960s. The economy boomed. Jobs were plentiful. Anyone could work their way through college then.

Min wage should be $10 right now. And it should be increased ever year so it doesn't get so behind.

1

tomatogrower 1 year, 2 months ago

http://www.kansas.com/2013/02/17/2680056/govs-financial-numbers-differ.html

Check out this article about Brownback's lack of math skills, otherwise known to us "dark spiritual people" as lying through your teeth.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 2 months ago

How about making yourself valuable to your employeer, and EARNING your wages? Why do losers always have their hands out for everything as long as they don't have to pay for it?

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rockchalk1977 1 year, 2 months ago

On the minimum wage, the so called "progressives" won't be happy until a Big Mac costs $20.

4

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 2 months ago

"Dan Widder, a city councilman in Ulysses, testified in favor of Senate Bill 130, which would allow local government entities to invest in precious metals, such as gold and silver."

That's gotta be one of the stupidest ideas to come out of a legislature that deals almost exclusively in stupid ideas.

1

Pepe 1 year, 2 months ago

It would seem like increasing the minimum wage would also cause an increase in unemployment. Speaking as an employer, if I can afford to spend $14.50/hour in wages and the minimum wage is suddenly raised from $7.25/hour to $9/hour, it does not mean that my ability to pay wages is going to change -- what it means is that one of my employees will have to be let go and me and the rest of the employees will have to work harder. In other words, an increase in the minimum wage does not equal a corresponding increase in the employer's ability to pay wages. It would seem like the weakest members of society (i.e., those who have a hard time even competing for a minimum wage job) would be getting the shaft because they would be the ones getting laid off and bearing the brunt of this.

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 2 months ago

When minimum wage was $2.65, was anyone besides a tipped employee, who really make $20 an hour, getting pd that wage? I was a bus boy at the age of 14 in 1980 and was making $5 an hr. My paper route wages would have averaged about $7 an hr. I mowed lawns which netted $10 an hr. I did these things before I was 16 yrs old and during the $2.65 min wage. My point is, nobody pd that wage because the labor market demanded a more competitive wage. Minimum wage jobs are for 17 yr olds, not to support a family of four. My real point is adults earning minimum wage have a bad work ethic and are paid accordingly.

1

Bob_Keeshan 1 year, 2 months ago

"Raising the minimum wage in 2009 was immediately followed by a recession in this state and big budget shortfalls. Had the minimum wage instead been eliminated, our economy would have been booming."

-- The Kansas Chamber Book of Logic, page 36

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question4u 1 year, 2 months ago

"House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, raised some eyebrows at his weekly news conference when he said maintaining a 7.5 percent ending balance wasn't a priority for him." "State law requires the state have a 7.5 percent balance at the end of the fiscal year."

So, state law is not a priority for Ray Merrick. What else is new? The extremists in Topeka have shown again and again that state law and the state constitution mean nothing to them if those stands in the way of their plans to eliminate taxes for the wealthy. Brownback's "experiment" requires raising taxes on the poor and middle-class homeowners, restricts workers' rights, siphons money from KDOT, and undermines education, but even that's not enough. It can't survive unless the constitution is changed and state law is broken.

Law in Kansas? We don't need no stinking law? We have the Kansas Chamber of Commerce pulling the strings. Welcome to the third world USA.

Oh, and welcome to the third century too. The Westboro Baptist Church is not the only organization in Kansas intent upon driving people away from Christianity. Kansas has Dave DePue too! There's nothing like a sanctimonious hypocrite to make the Church look good. What did Jesus say about judging others? When you're praying for Lawrence, make sure to say a prayer or two for Dave DePue, who may need to do some fast talking on the Day of judgment.

The New Testament is the perfect guide for a moral life. If only people like Ray Merrick and Dave DePue would actually read it!

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Bob Forer 1 year, 2 months ago

Quote of the week:

"Target prayer for dark spiritual areas of SE Kansas, Lawrence, KCKS, North Johnson County — ask God to restore the land." From a prayer list compiled by Dave DePue, volunteer pastor for Capitol Commission.

So I guess according to Pastor DePue, we are a bunch of godless heathens in Lawrence. Nicest thing anyone said about me all week.

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