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Missouri bill to give private and public schools same minimum wage exemption

The Missouri House this week passed a bill that would exempt religious and private schools from the state’s minimum-wage law. In 2018, Missouri voters approved incrementally raising the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023.

House Bill 1559, which now moves to the Senate, would allow private schools to pay entry-level wages for certain jobs at the same rate that public schools do. The bill’s sponsor, Sate Rep. Tom Remple, R-Excello, said the minimum-wage law is putting a real strain on these schools.

READ: Missouri’s minimum wage hike gets mixed reviews

“Because of the new law, many could be threatened to even stay in existence,” he said. “They have put building processes and plans on hold because of the minimum wage. I have private schools in my district that have had a lot of increases in some of their tuitions.”

Under current law, public school hourly wage workers already are exempt from the law. Remple said his bill would level the playing field between public and private school workers.

Representative Doug Beck, D-Affton, alleges the legislation could allow these schools to reduce the pay of hourly workers by 25 percent. “If we give the employer, in this case, the ability to take away $2.25 an hour from these employees, how many more of them are going to be on state assistance?” Beck asked.

While Beck made the assertion, there is no evidence that schools currently paying a higher minimum wage would resort to a lesser amount.

Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis, said he once was a low-wage worker once and knows how it feels. “This bill is essentially telling them that they’re less than anybody else when they’re already struggling to try to get by,” he said.

Remple is in his eighth and final year in the Missouri House, and represents northern Missouri’s Randolph, Macon and Linn counties.

Studies have shown that when minimum wages are increased in states, businesses reduce the hours of employees. The result is that minimum wage workers end up making less money.

The minimum wage issue is a topic in the 2020 Democrat Presidential Primary campaign. Bernie Sander’s plan would raise the mimimum  wage to $15 per hour but also increase taxes on those making it. The result would be those workers having a take-home wage of only $7.20 per hour.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice