A little more than a year after the Missouri General Assembly stymied Kansas City’s effort to raise the minimum wage, state voters said it’s time for an increase.
Proposition B passed in Tuesday’s midterm election, meaning the minimum wage will gradually increase to $12 an hour by 2023.
Supporters said the increase will help Missouri residents raise their standard of living, while opponents said it could lead to fewer jobs and higher prices for products.
Organizers for the Proposition B field effort said they knocked on 24,000 doors statewide over the weekend leading up to the election, making contact with voters.
"I think they recognize that the minimum wage hasn't kept pace with our current society," said Pam Hausner, a campaign manager for Missouri Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. "Our buying power now is equivalent to what it was in 1960. So costs are going up but wages aren't. And that has to be remedied."
People who joined the effort said the hardships they faced while trying to live on minimum wage made them eager to push for change.
"It's like you got to balance and figure out where you're going to spend your money and what's going to have to wait," said Richard Franklin, a union janitor. "And sometimes some things can't wait for people. And so then they lose everything because they don't make enough to maintain the little that they do have."
The national minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Missouri’s increase will start in 2019, when the wage rises from $7.85 to $8.60.
Samuel King is the Missouri government and politics reporter for KCUR. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: @SamuelKingNews.