TOPEKA (KSNT) — A state senator wants to put more money into the pockets of minimum wage workers in Kansas. While critics agree that change is needed, they worry about the unintended consequences for everyone.
On January 19, Senator Ethan Corson introduced Senate Bill 70, also known as “The Making Work Pay Act,” with the hopes of raising the minimum wage. The bill would raise the minimum wage in Kansas to $10 starting next year. Then, it would continue to gradually increase by $2 each year until it reaches $16 in 2027.
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Right now, the minimum wage in Kansas is set at $7.25 an hour. That hasn’t changed since 2010. Corson says that’s not enough to live on in today’s economy.
“In this country, I don’t think you should be working full-time and living in poverty or depending on the government for government assistance,” Corson said. “So, I think anyone who works full-time should have the dignity to get a living wage that allows them to support themselves and their families.”
Not everyone supports the bill. Senator John Doll agrees workers should have a living wage, but he warns that raising the minimum wage is a double-edged sword. He says that when wages go up, so do the costs of goods. He fears this could lead to another round of inflation.
“A person who works and has a full-time job should have a livable wage. But on the flip side, that’s why we pay so much more for Big Macs and Quarter Pounders with Cheese, you know,” Doll said. “It’s hard to get a cheap meal.”
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So, what kind of business would this bill affect the most? Small business.
Andrew Howard owns the Round Table Bookstore in Topeka. While he can afford to pay his employees more than minimum wage, he says not all small business owners can.
“Small businesses have a very limited amount of capital they can pay off,” Howard said. “We’re lucky enough to be able to start our employees at $10 an hour, so hopefully it doesn’t affect us, but I know not all small businesses aren’t so lucky.”
Howard says he considers his employees like family, so paying them more is just one way he shows his appreciation.
Last week, the bill was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. We will continue to monitor its progress.