TOPEKA (KSNT) – A state senator wants to put more money in the pockets of minimum wage workers in Kansas. While critics agree change is needed, they worry about unintended consequences for everyone.
On Jan. 19, Sen. Ethan Corson introduced Senate Bill 70, also knowns as “The Making Work Pay Act,” with the hope of increasing minimum wage. The bill would raise the minimum wage in Kansas to $10 starting next year. It would then continue to gradually increase by $2 each year until it reaches $16 in 2027.
Right now, minimum wage in Kansas is set at $7.25 an hour. That hasn’t changed since 2010. Corson says it’s just not enough to live on in today’s economy.
“In this country, I don’t think that you should working full-time and be living in poverty or be dependent on the government for government assistance,” Corson said. “So, I think anybody who’s works full time should have the dignity of getting a living wage that allows them to support themselves and their family.”
Not everyone supports the bill. Sen. John Doll agrees workers should make a livable wage, but warns increasing minimum wage is a double-edged sword. He says when wages go up, so do the costs of goods. He worries that could lead to another cycle of inflation.
“A person that’s working and has a full-time job should get a livable wage. But on the other side of the coin, that’s why we’re paying a lot more for Big Macs and Quarter Pounders with Cheese, you know,” Doll said. “It’s hard to get a cheap meal.”
So what kind of businesses would this bill affect the most? Small businesses.
Andrew Howard owns 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 finite amount of capital that they can pay,” Howard said. “We’re fortunate enough that we can start our employees at $10 an hour, so it hopefully won’t affect us, but I know not every small business is not that lucky.”
Howard says he thinks of his employees as a family, so paying them more is just one way he shows his appreciation.
Last week, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee of Commerce.