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Readers Split On Bill To Gradually Increase The Minimum Wage In St. Louis

Demonstrators in front of Wendy's in Rock Hill,  August 26, 2013
Demonstrators in front of Wendy’s in Rock Hill, August 26, 2013

Readers split on the question of raising the minimum wage in St. Louis.  Here are the results of the Sunday Poll:

Q: A bill introduced Friday would raise the minimum wage in St. Louis to $10/hr, with annual increases of $1.25/hr until reaching $15/hr in 2020. I…

  1. Strongly support 12 [25.53%]
  2. Oppose 11 [23.4%]
  3. Support 10 [21.28%]
  4. Strongly oppose 9 [19.15%]
  5. Neutral 3 [6.38%]
  6. Unsure/no opinion 2 [4.26%]

Support narrowly edged opposition 22-20.  The common argument against raising the minimum wage is that doing so would lead to inflation. That’s interesting, because the minimum wage hasn’t kept up with inflation:

Myth: The federal minimum wage goes up automatically as prices increase.

Not true: While some states have enacted rules in recent years triggering automatic increases in their minimum wages to help them keep up with inflation, the federal minimum wage does not operate in the same manner. An increase in the federal minimum wage requires approval by Congress and the president. However, in his call to gradually increase the current federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, President Obama has also called for it to adjust automatically with inflation. Eliminating the requirement of formal congressional action would likely reduce the amount of time between increases, and better help low-income families keep up with rising prices.
Myth: The federal minimum wage is higher today than it was when President Reagan took office.

Not true: While the federal minimum wage was only $3.35 per hour in 1981 and is currently $7.25 per hour in real dollars, when adjusted for inflation, the current federal minimum wage would need to be more than $8 per hour to equal its buying power of the early 1980s and more nearly $11 per hour to equal its buying power of the late 1960s. That’s why President Obama is urging Congress to increase the federal minimum wage and give low-wage workers a much-needed boost. (Minimum Wage Mythbusters — U.S. Dept of Labor)

Not raising the minimum wage means these people find it harder and harder to survive each year as most everyone else gets raises, and groceries and other goods go up in cost. People are also focusing on $15/hr — that rate isn’t happening soon anywhere — increases will be gradual:

Among the cities that have enacted even higher local minimums are San Francisco ($15 by 2018), Seattle ($15 by 2021), Chicago ($13 by 2019) and Washington, D.C. ($11.50 by 2016), according to the National Employment Law Project. (5 facts about the minimum wage — Pew Reseach)

I hope this bill passes.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Gradually Raise The Minimum Wage To $15/hr By 2020?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

 

Board bill 83 (not online yet) was introduced at the Board of Aldermen on Friday morning. If eventually signed into law, it would set up incremental raises to the minimum wage in the City of St. Louis. This seemed like a good topic for a reader poll.

Here’s the exact poll question:

A bill introduced Friday would raise the minimum wage in St. Louis to $10/hr, with annual increases of $1.25/hr until reaching $15/hr in 2020. I…

The answers range from “strongly support” to “strongly oppose.” The poll, located in the right sidebar, will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Tax Scams Make Sensational News But Media Fails To Mention Adjusting Withholding To Reduce/Eliminate Refund

March 13, 2015 Crime, Economy, Featured, Media, Taxes Comments Off on Tax Scams Make Sensational News But Media Fails To Mention Adjusting Withholding To Reduce/Eliminate Refund
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I’ve circled the three places on KMOV’s home page where “Tax Cheats” stories appeared

When we watch television (vs Netflix, etc) it’s usually CBS — KMOV 4.1 here — unfortunately their promos on tax scams/cheats seem nonstop. Wednesday morning I checked local news sources for similar reports. KMOV had 3 mentions on their homepage, the others didn’t — but many had stories from this month:

These stories are designed to frighten you into worrying about someone steeling your refund — you go to file and someone else has already filed a return for you — taking your refund.  Meanwhile, commercials for auto dealers talk about using your refund as a down payment — some will even double it.  So a $3,000 refund becomes a $6,000 down payment.

Many get excited by a big refund — the bigger the better. The ideal, however, is little or no refund. Why? If you get a huge refund it means you’ve lent the federal & state governments your money interest-free.  A $7800 refund means you could’ve had another $15 in your pocket every week — $65/month.  I know some people use their refund as a savings plan, if so, put that amount into a savings plan every pay period rather than letting Uncle Sam hold it. In savings it’ll earn interest and should an emergency arise  — like car trouble — you can access your money.

You want your withholding set so you get little to nothing back at tax time. You can use the IRS’s Withholding Calculator to determine how your W-4 should be completed.

If you get a big annual tax refund you are leaving yourself vulnerable to fraud.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: The Public Shouldn’t Build & Own Any New Stadium

January 14, 2015 Economy, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers: The Public Shouldn’t Build & Own Any New Stadium

Stadium week continues with the results of the Sunday Poll:

Reaction to the following: The public should build & own a new stadium to keep the Rams in St. Louis

  1. Strongly Disagree 47 [65.28%]
  2. Strongly Agree 9 [12.5%]
  3. Neutral 6 [8.33%]
  4. Tie 5 [6.94%]
    1. Somewhat Disagree
    2. Somewhat Agree

An overwhelming majority disagree with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who thinks a stadium should be a publicly-owned asset. I agree — I’m ok with long-term local & state government incentives helping Kroenke finance a stadium, but we don’t need to be stuck owning another white elephant. Let him build, own, maintain it — much harder to walk away that way!

— Steve Patterson

 

Federal & Missouri Fuel Taxes Should Be Raised Now, Indexed To Inflation

December 15, 2014 Economy, Featured, Missouri 5 Comments
The crumbling Kingshighway viaduct will finally get replaced in 2015
The crumbling Kingshighway viaduct will finally get replaced in 2015

In the last twenty years many things have increased in cost, including steel, concrete, asphalt, labor and other expenses of transportation infrastructure. Still, the main funding mechanism (fuel taxes) haven’t increased since 1993 (federal) and 1996 (Missouri). It’s no wonder our infrastructure is falling apart. Plus, we have more infrastructure than we did 20 years ago — more to maintain.

On the federal fuel tax:

It was last raised, in the year 1993, to 18.4 cents per gallon. That’s over 20 years ago, and gas prices at the time were close to the now unimaginable $1.00 per gallon mark. Yet the amount of the gas tax was fixed and not tied to inflation — so it has not changed since. (U.S. states also charge gasoline taxes; the national average is about 23.5 cents.) (Washington Post)

Fuel taxes have never been tied to inflation, but they need to be!  Politicians don’t like raising taxes, voters seldom approve increases. Yet we want nice roads and bridges that don’t collapse. Guess what folks, that requires money! Waiting a couple of decades between increases make raising the rate much more painful and shocking, we’re better off increasing incrementally every year or two.

Why now? Gas prices at the pump are at a 4-year low right now, but it’s likely temporary.

By holding production steady amidst very low global oil prices, Saudi Arabia and its OPEC allies have indicated that they will not take the U.S. assault on their market share lying down. Despite all the advantages of advanced U.S. hydraulic fracturing technology, Middle Eastern oil still has a definitive advantage: production cost. While OPEC countries could tolerate oil prices as low as $60 per barrel, analysts predict the U.S. will see a decline in new drilling if the price falls below $70 per barrel.

In the wake of OPEC’s announcement, the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil benchmark price fell below $66 per barrel—right into the sweet spot between $60 and $70 per barrel that OPEC hopes will curb U.S. oil production. (Scientific American)

U.S. production, through “fracking”, has been impressive. Still, we’re a net importer of oil. Fracking is an expensive way to extract oil from the earth, if prices are too low it doesn’t pay to continue. Something will change that causes the supply to be reduced, causing gas prices to go back up. We need to get fuel taxes increased and set to go up automatically with inflation so we can maintain our existing infrastructure.

— Steve Patterson

 

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