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Government

Kansas City Council To Vote On Minimum Wage Next Week

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Cody Newill
/
KCUR
Dozens of members of Stand Up KC and many opponents to the minimum wage ordinance filled the council chambers Thursday.

The Kansas City Council will continue to discuss an ordinance that would raise the city's minimum wage. 

Dozens of activists from Stand Up KC, a group focused on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, filled the council chamber Thursday during a two-hour session of expert testimony. 

As it currently stands, the measure would increase the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2023. That's $2 an hour less than what advocates want, and takes an extra three years.

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Credit Cody Newill / KCUR
/
KCUR
Council members debated how best to go forward over the next week after hearing two hours of testimony from economists and city planners.

Councilman Jermaine Reed sponsored the minimum wage hike. He cautioned that nothing is final yet, and said $15 an hour still could be on the table.

"I think $15 an hour is certainly something we should work toward, but if that is not the will of the council and we move to $13, it should be something that I can support as well," Reed said. "But that's going to require additional discussion."

Despite the testimony from city planners and economists, many council members admitted that they don't have many answers to tough questions. Mayor Sly James said that's made discussion tough.

"What's the right [wage]? What impact will it really have on businesses and employees? At what point does a business close down?" James said. "We don't know the answers to those things, so the best thing we can do is be judicious in how we approach this."

There's also a question about whether a pending state bill that would forbid local wage increases could prevent the ordinance from being enacted at all. The council is expected to vote on the measure on July 16.