Monday, February 25, 2008

Kansas State Senate takes up the issue of raising the Minimum Wage!

For the first time in 20 years, more than 20,000 Kansans earning wages at or below federal minimum wage could see an increase in their pay checks.

Senate Bill 466, which was recently heard by members of the Senate Commerce Committee, would increase Kansas’ dismal $2.65 per hour minimum wage by bringing it in line with federal wages over two years. The first increase would raise minimum pay to $6.55 on August 1, 2008. In August 2009, the rate would be permanently set at $7.25.

A report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which estimates the number of people working at or below the federal minimum wage rates in each state, found that in 2006, Kansas had 23,000 workers earning at or below the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. This rate is lower than the rates in the US Territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The legislature must start to take seriously the needs of hardworking Kansans. We owe it to these families to pass a wage hike. It’s the right thing to do, and long overdue. Kansas currently has the lowest minimum wage in the nation; nearly $2.50 per hour lower than the next closest rate. Neighboring states Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa and Colorado all have minimum wage laws at or exceeding the federal rate. This bill would help our state remain competitive and to keep our workforce at home.

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