Archive for Monday, February 18, 2013

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

February 18, 2013


— 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:


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


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


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


Bob Forer 4 years 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.

question4u 4 years 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!

Greg Cooper 4 years ago

We already know the legislature pays no attention to law, even the laws it passes itself. The school finance law is being totally ignored, and there is movement afoot to change the law retroactively so that they do not have to worry about being criminals.

Paraphrasing George Orwell , "We are raising your chocolate ration from four ounces to three. Aren't we great guys?"

Bob_Keeshan 4 years 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

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"My real point is adults earning minimum wage have a bad work ethic and are paid accordingly."

If you couldn't egregiously overgeneralize, you'd be incapable of making any point at all.

elliottaw 4 years ago

you must work for the Kansas government because everything you say is contrary to facts, just keep spreading your lies and hope people believe it

Pepe 4 years 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.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

If you're already paying $14.50 an hour, how does raising the minimum wage to $9 have any effect at all on your business?

BTW, it's been well-documented that raising the minimum wage has very little effect on the levels of employment.

Pepe 4 years ago

I didn't say paying $14.50/hour to each employee, I said I can afford to spend a total of $14.50/hour in wages for all employees (i.e. 2 employees at $7.25/hour each)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

It's pretty simple-- either raise your prices, or lower your own compensation. If your customers can't afford to pay for your goods/services without exploiting your employees, then they don't really need them. And if you can't make a living without exploiting your employees, you should find a new way to make a living.

Greg Cooper 4 years ago

Nice try, Pepe, but we all know what you mean. Why don't you just say, "I don't want to pay anybody more than minimum wage, because I don't want to pay even minimum wage."

elliottaw 4 years ago

what leads you to believe that the same person who would apply for a minimum wage job what not apply to you job with a slightly higher pay? Also sounds like who ever is doing your interview process is not qualified for the job if they can not skim the loser from the top of the pool.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

If your starting salary is already higher than a prospective $9 minimum wage, with regular raises possible, raising the minimum wage would have zero impact on your business. Your reasoning makes no sense.

elliottaw 4 years ago

most people earning minimum wage are working for bigger companies (i.e. walmart, target, mcdonalds ext) those companies certainly can afford the bump, and why shouldn't a person working 40hrs a week year round at least be able to get their head above the poverty line. There are no real factory jobs left for these people to work like there was when America was in its hay day, now you need a college degree to even think of getting a job and most of those are not enough to be able to live on and pay back your loans.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years 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.

jayhawklawrence 4 years ago

Limbaugh for years has had an advertiser on his radio show selling gold. Maybe that is where he got it.

That is probably about as much research as this guy is capable of.

elliottaw 4 years ago

McDonalds makes over $2 billion a year in profits, will be ok if they have to pay their employees enough to be able to at least put a leaking roof over their heads

Matthew Herbert 4 years ago

you defeated your own argument with your statistics. McDonald's makes $2 billion per year BECAUSE they keep their wages low relative to their earnings. If you raise the wage cost, McDonalds won't just say "oh well, I guess we'll make less this year", they will raise their costs to increase revenue proportionate to their wage increase so that they can continue to make $2 billion next year as well.

chootspa 4 years ago

Because we all know Big Macs are a necessity that consumers will purchase at any price.

elliottaw 4 years ago

No I stated that it would not hurt them at all to pay their workers a fair wage, it would not really make a dent in their profit.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 4 years 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?

elliottaw 4 years ago

Yeah because we all know that when companies see people busting their butts they reward them by raising their wages according, get out of the dream world, my parents worked for BP for 30+ years helped rewrite large numbers of regulations and policy's and want to know what they rewarded them with, they out sourced the billing overseas and moved the rest of the jobs out of the country and got rid of all the personal they had on the gasoline side of things, and BP makes about $15 Billion a quarter.

Get out of your mothers basement for a little each day and join the real world

Cant_have_it_both_ways 4 years ago

Sorry, I choose to not cry about my parents. I would guess that if your parents owned something other than entry level skills we would not be having this coversation. My parents too, had nothing, I made everything on my own. You see, I have avoided a life plagued with substance abuse. I saved my money and did with out. The playing field is level, if you would spend as much time doing something to make your life better, instead of blaming the guy that worked harder than you do, then you might have something too. How do you get off blaming someone that works harder than you for you not haveing anything? Entitlement mentality? I or any other person that pulls their fair share owe you nothing. When you want something you need to earn it, not demand that someone give it to you.

I will guarentee you that if you, as an employee were worth having, you would make a very nice wage. Malcontents generally wind up on the bottom, whining that life has passed them by. When you get your income tax refund, make sure you get your tatoos finished and to hell with paying down your debt.

tomatogrower 4 years ago

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

Cant_have_it_both_ways 4 years 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

UneasyRider 4 years ago

Glad I'm not you. As I posted before, I paid 5 figures to IRS last year. Waiting for your response as to what you paid.

Katara 4 years ago

When did Rand Paul sign up for LJW?

Armstrong 4 years 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

Greg Cooper 4 years ago

Larry, do a little more investigation to find out what a "small business" is, according to the SBA. I think you'll find that a significant number of larger businesses are classified as "small businesses".

Your point is well taken, as far as it goes, but don't make the mistake of thinking the term means businesswes with only ten or twenty employees.

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