Letters to the Editor

Letter: Local wages

June 3, 2014


To the editor:

It is time for Lawrence to investigate its authority in using the home rule to raise the minimum wage. Raising the wage in Lawrence to $10.10 per hour could be the most important and most effective economic development action ever taken by a Lawrence City Commission.

While Lawrence economic development activities have always been focused on creating new, good-paying jobs, the simplest way to improve wages — and local spending — is to raise the minimum wage and then peg it to inflation standards.

For good or bad, Lawrence’s economy is focused on low-paying service jobs. Thousands of Lawrencians work full-time for below-poverty level wages. Raising Lawrence’s minimum wage will help these earners by generating more disposable income. That income will almost instantaneously be pumped back into the local economy through additional expenditures. Those expenditures will drive sales tax revenue, create additional profits for local businesses and create a long-term economic stimulus for the city.

There are real benefits in raising the wage: more money for those on the low end of the wage spectrum, more local spending, more tax revenue and a reinvigoration of the local economy. Plus, no tax increase is needed to quickly help the city in helping its own.

The time is now. Raising the minimum-wage will boost the economy, improve the lives of Lawrencians, increase tax revenues and help the city reclaim its rightful place as the progressive capital of Kansas.


Rick Johnson 1 year, 2 months ago

How about we use a little common sense? If someone wants a pay raise they need to learn a skill or go to college. Pretty simple concept, huh?

Cille King 1 year, 2 months ago

There are a lot of college graduates earning minimum wage or slightly more because of the lack of good paying jobs. Why shouldn't companies like Walmart, who make billions, pay their employees a living wage, instead of instructing them on how to get government (taxpayers assistance) help?

Brock Masters 1 year, 2 months ago

What WalMart or any other business pays to its employees should be between the employer and the employee.

Why not subsidize low wage employees by taxing higher wage employees? I wonder how many who support raising the minimum wage would support it if it was funded directly by them and not the business?

Want to help low wage employees? Fight against illegal immigration and amnesty

Brett McCabe 1 year, 2 months ago

It is funded by them. Where do you think the money comes from?

You couldn't be more wrong about the employer/employee relationship. Corporations have a long history of exploiting employees at every possible turn. As right-wing state governments have eaten away at the rights to unionize, economic inequality has hit a 50-year peak, corporate profits are at the highest level they've been in years and yet you don't think the working men and women deserve a little more?

It's fundamental economics - a subject Republicans have never seemed to understand. Give more to the working class, they spend it, it recycles through the economy and profits continue to grow.

Brock Masters 1 year, 2 months ago

Brett, I said directly, not indirectly. Big difference.

No, I don't think the working man deserves more. They deserve only what they can demand from the market.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 2 months ago

And this is how you demand more from the market. The right to organize, to lobby and to create legislation isn't reserved solely for the wealthy. Working people also have the right to impact the economic policies of their government.

Bob Forer 1 year, 2 months ago

Brock, we already subsidize minimum wage workers. You've heard of food stamps, haven't you?

Seth Peterson 1 year, 2 months ago

Simple only because you don't understand.

Scott Burkhart 1 year, 2 months ago

Here's what you don't understand. If you do this for the WalMart employee, you have to do this for all of the small businesses up and down Massachusetts St. Lots of small businesses cannot withstand having to increase their wage costs. Some will cut labor and some will cut jobs. Probably all will need to raise prices to compensate, so now the consumer gets to subsidize the increased wages. Simple.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 2 months ago

See below. Studies have shown that there is no net job loss. Employee retention goes through the roof, which means lower turnover costs for businesses, more productive businesses and more profits.

Bob Forer 1 year, 2 months ago

Actually, Rick, if everyone followed your advice there would be nobody to fill those esssential, yet minimum wage jobs. Do you not believe in the dignity of either work or humanity? I say anyone willing to work forty hours a week with reasonable effort and dilligence should have a minimum standard of living above poverty level Just as labor as effort should be considered good, so should human dignity and worth.

We obviously don't see eye to eye Rick. That's okay, I don't hang with your ilk.

Clark Coan 1 year, 2 months ago

The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce won't let this happen. Even if it did pass, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce would get a bill passed in the legislature pre-empting the ordinance. What could happen the City Commission could require all city entities (such as LMH) and entities that receive tax benefits or grants pay a minimum wage $10.10.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 2 months ago

This is a good tactic, if needed. Many of the lowest-paid full-time employees are CNA's and other care-givers (I'm not addressing LMH specifically just the health-care industry in general). This would be a start.

My goal is to get 3 city commissioners to vote in favor of a simple order: ask the city staff to review the authority to raise the minimum wage locally. It's not asking a lot.

Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 2 months ago

Seattle passed a law that will raise their minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

Increasing the wage will also create more new jobs as a result of the new spending power.

Bob Forer 1 year, 2 months ago

Just so you know , Scott, the comma between year and right is optional.

Scott Burkhart 1 year, 2 months ago

This will increase labor costs resulting in higher prices and higher unemployment.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 2 months ago

Big myth. In the heavily effected industries only, prices have shown to rise a modest 2% after integrating a substantially higher minimum pay. A study by the Chicago Federal Reserve Board and a separate study at Cal Berkeley have shown that unemployment does not rise and, in fact, employment generally is boosted slightly due to the economic stimulus the wage provides.

And, by the way, seven Nobel Laureate economists disagree with you. They all signed a compact supporting at least a $10.10 min. wage.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 2 months ago

To answer an earlier question: why not make it $15 or $20? Well, first, Seattle just did.

Second, studies predict that a minimum wage of up to $13 would not have a negative impact on jobs. However, even those of us who strongly support this increase recognize that a careful approach is the wise approach.

Once the wage is brought back up to where it should have been in the first place, next steps can be considered. At the very least, it should be tied to inflation, but it should also be adjusted to ensure that the wage is above the poverty level and can be viewed as a livable wage.

No one wants to wildly pick a number. The number should be tethered to meaningful economic measures.

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