OPINION: The long unnescessary march towards raising the minimum wage

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The march towards a higher minimum wage is happening all across the U.S.

Recently, the Los Angeles mayor signed an ordinance into law to gradually raise minimum wage to $15 and the state of California is lifting minimum wage to $13 an hour statewide by 2017, according to a June 14 Fox News article.

California is not the only state that wants in on the action, though. Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Vermont and West Virginia are also seeking higher minimum wages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

With 13 states (plus Washington D.C.) looking at increasing minimum wage starting this year, it may look like increasing the dollars the average worker makes is necessary – but it’s really not.

At the beginning of the year, Wichita D-Rep. Jim Ward proposed a bill, calling to enact the Kansas Working Families Pay Raise Act. This bill proposed that the state raise minimum wage a dollar an hour, effective on July 1 of this year. For the next two years, each year would see another dollar increase, with minimum wage hitting $10.25 in 2017.

Shortly after this bill was introduced, it was referred to Committee of Appropriations.

In Kansas, the average starting salary for a public school teacher is $33,386, according to Teacher Portal. With an increase in minimum wage to $10.25, we could see minimum wage workers making almost $25,000 a year, looking at the 47-hour work week. That is only about $8,000 less than someone with four years of education under their belt and out of their wallet.

I don’t believe people making minimum wage should be making a salary that close to someone walking into a job requiring at least four years of higher education. An education that costs money, time and effort.

My view behind a minimum wage around $7.25 is that it is used as an incentive.

People making $7.25 an hour should be high school or college students looking for part-time employment, basically extra spending money. It should not be people with families to support.

By the time you have a family or a life that needs supporting beyond a full-time salary of $17,000 a year, many should be certified for a particular job or have some type of higher education that is making you more than minimum wage and includes benefits.

If you don’t believe there are other opportunities, look at our wonderful government that is constantly offering opportunities to help citizens get certified or get placed in a higher paying job. It wants more tax money, so you bet they are going to help us make a higher salary. Just check out Kansas Works if you’re a non-believer.

Leave flipping burgers to the high school kids; it helps them build much-needed character and find a higher paying job.

There are opportunities for people to make a higher salary all over the place, all you have to do is work hard to look for it. Therefore, an increase in minimum wage is not necessary.

Jena Ernsting is a sophomore in agricultural communications and journalism.

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