Missouri House passes bill that could allow private and religious schools to cut wages of hourly workers

School Bus

In 2018, Missouri voters gave their blessing to incrementally raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023. The state House has passed a bill that would exempt private and religious school workers from the state’s minimum wage law. The proposal would open the door for these schools to reduce the pay of hourly wage workers, including some bus drivers, teacher aides, and janitors.

Excello Republican State Representative Tim Remole, who’s sponsoring the bill, says the minimum wage law is putting a real strain on these schools. “Because of the new law, many could be threatened to even stay in existence,” he says. “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 are already exempt from the law. Remole says his bill would level the playing field between public and private school workers.

Representative Doug Beck, D-Affton, says the legislation could allow these schools to reduce the pay of hourly workers by 25%. “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,” asks Beck.

Representative Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis, says he was a low-wage worker once upon a time 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 says.

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

House Bill 1559 is headed to the Senate.

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