JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – Democrats are saying that Republicans are dragging their feet in raising state workers’ wages to $15 an hour.
Missouri employs more than 50,000 state workers, and they are among the lowest paid in the nation. The governor has given lawmakers a February 1 deadline to let employees adjust the cost of living, but the legislation appears to be at an impasse.
In a speech at the State Department last week, Governor Mike Parson called the economy “strong” thanks to Missouri’s response to the pandemic.
“With historic budget surpluses and federal dollars entering our state, we want to build on past momentum to capture even greater opportunities for the future of Missourians,” Parson said. on Wednesday. “We’ve taken a conventional approach to the pandemic, never closing our businesses and always having a conservative and balanced budget.”
That $5.4 emergency supplementary budget includes a proposed adoption of a 5.5% cost of living adjustment and a $15 hourly minimum wage. Those increases are expected to be worth $91 million this year and $218 next year.
“We have to compete and really have to fill some of the jobs out there,” said Senator Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby. “My way, we have the Cameron Veterans Home which is half full because they have only half the staff. Those jobs need to be filled.”
Two weeks ago, the House Budget Committee heard the law, began to have the ball rolling about passing the increase, but has since been silent.
“I suspect there are some Republicans fighting to support it,” said Representative Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis.
“We might actually have to fight to defend the governor’s proposal, a position that’s usual for us.”
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