Bill would more than double Kansas' minimum wage in next 2 years

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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -- The minimum wage in Kansas could more than double in the next two years if a new bill passes in the legislature and receives the governor's signature.

The new bill, introduced this week, calls for the state's minimum wage to increase to $11 per hour in 2020 and up to $15 per hour in 2021. Currently, Kansas' minimum wage sits at $7.25 per hour.

Rep. Jim Ward (D) Wichita, sponsoring the bill, says he hopes the Kansas legislature will vote on it within the next 30 days.

The change would mean increased wages and ultimately, paychecks. However, there is a concern with a hit on some small businesses.

One local business owner says a small percentage of businesses "will have to do some adjusting, but the vast majority of the impact is positive."

Ward is vocal about the issue on social media He says right now, 29 states have a higher minimum wage than Kansas, including Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado. Kansas raised its minimum wage to $7.25 in 2010. Ward says it's time for the state to take another step.

"I think we're in a dynamic part of the economy," Ward says. "You look at Wichita, we're booming, and I think working people should get a pay raise."

Some Wichita business owners like Joseph Toubia agree.

"I still feel the current rate does not justify the demands for the cost of living," he says. "Now I do feel like there should be some debate over what that new rate should be. The cost of living in this area is much lower than cities on the east and west coast, but I still feel we need progress."

Ward says he'd be happy to negotiate with any of his colleagues, but ultimately believes the bill to raise Kansas' minimum wage will pass.