The Kansas City council has voted to increase the minimum wage for businesses in the city, but members wonder whether the hike will stand.
The council passed an ordinance that would on August 24 set the minimum wage in Kansas City at $8.50 an hour; an increase from the state’s minimum wage of $7.65. It would then increase that minimum annually on January 1, eventually to 13-dollars in 2020 and based on the cost of living each year after that.
Councilman Ed Ford said being the first city to pass such an ordinance makes Kansas City a target.
“We will be the first and only city in Missouri to have an enacted a minimum wage statute so we will bear the brunt of all the lawsuits and the legal shenanigans that go on,” said Ford, who cast the only vote against the ordinance. “We will not have the final say today. We know this is going to go to court. We know that the legislature next January will probably strike down whatever we pass. There may be a referendum. There may be a petition.”
Ford said to pass the ordinance with the potential challenges it will face would present a “false hope” to people trying to make a living.
Kansas City council staff have also said that enforcement of such ordinances has proven the greatest challenge in Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.
Mayor Sly James acknowledged the ordinance’s lack of an enforcement mechanism, but despite such concerns he supported the plan.
“Why are we doing it? Because we believe that it is moral and right to try to give people a higher wage so that they can live better,” said James.
Proponents hope the vote will prove a higher wage works so that the state and other cities will follow.
The increase would only apply to those 18 and older and exempts government employees except Kansas City employees, as well as apprentices, certain charity workers and volunteers, and interns working for academic credit.
Tipped worker’s pay would be at least half the state’s minimum wage.