With most of the attention on the state’s budget deficit, one Democratic lawmaker is focused on workers wages. Representative Jim Ward of Wichita is sponsoring a bill to raise the minimum wage in Kansas. Currently, Ward says, a full-time worker minimum wage worker in Kansas earns just over $15,000 a year. That’s slightly above the federal poverty line for a family of two.
The bill would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour on July 1 then increase again by $1 an hour in each of the next two years hitting $10.25 in 2017. Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to raise the minimum wage for several years. The move is opposed by most of the Legislature’s Republicans and many Kansas business owners who say it would mean employers would be forced to cut jobs and lay off minimum wage workers.