Columbia small-business owners voice support for Prop B
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Columbia small-business owners voice support for Prop B

Date: October 16, 2006
By: Rachel Higginbotham
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Since Proposition B was put on this November's ballot, some of it's most vocal opponents have been small-business owners. But on Monday, two local businesses owners got a chance to voice their support of a minimum-wage increase.

Give Missourians a Raise, the coalition that put Proposition B on the ballot, held three press conferences featuring small-business owners who support the measure. Conferences were held in Columbia, Kansas City and St. Louis.

Columbia business owners Rhonda Perry and Kathleen Anger spoke in front of Kent's Floral Gallery in the District. Perry, who owns Patchwork Family Farms, said that she supports the ballot measure because it's tied to a yearly increase for inflation.

"Gas prices haven't stood still, health care prices haven't stood still," Perry said. "The only thing that has stood still is the minimum wage."

Give Missourians a Raise spokesperson Ron Berry said that small-business owners who support a wage increase are not a small minority. He said that 46% of small-business owners support a minimum wage increase. The numbers come from a national Gallup poll released in March.

Both Perry and Anger, who owns Horizon Research Services, said they don't currently pay their employees the minimum wage.

"We've consistently raised our wages so our people can afford health care and the products we produce," said Perry.

Anger admitted that because she already pays her employees well above the wage proposed, the potential wage increase from $5.15 to $6.50 an hour wouldn't affect her business directly. But she said it could level the playing field.

"In some ways it wouldn't affect us at all," Anger said. "But in a lot of ways it would because it would require our competitors to raise their wages and put us at less of a disadvantage."

But Proposition B opponent Brad Jones said that a raise in the would put Anger's business and other local small-business at more of a disadvantage. Jones, who is the director of the Missouri chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, said that the same inflationary clause that Perry and Anger support will hurt Missouri small businesses.

"I don't believe that [Perry and Anger] support that. Our numbers from membership say the opposite: that businesses owners hate the [inflationary] indexing," said Jones.

He added: "Do [Perry and Anger] understand what it means?"

Jones said that a yearly adjustment for inflation could hurt Missouri businesses because surrounding states aren't tied to inflation. In a few years, he said, Missouri could have the highest minimum wage in the Midwest.

"The other side hasn't told you about the indexing," Jones said. "But the opposition [to Proposition B] would be significantly less if there was no indexing."

Missouri is one of five states that has a minimum wage increase on this November's ballot.