Missouri Minute: Parson seeks $15 minimum wage for state workers; COVID cases hit new record

Hello, MBA readers,

An effort to address worker turnover among Missouri state employees by increasing their wages is on the agenda this week in Jefferson City. Gov. Mike Parson’s administration is pushing for a $15 minimum wage for all government workers and a 5.5% pay increase for employees including social service workers and prison guards. The plan would spend $91 million on pay for Missouri state workers, who earn among the lowest wages of any state workers nationally. In energy news, Ameren is pushing back against federal pressure to shutter its coal-fired power plant in Jefferson County sooner than March 2024. The St. Louis utility said Friday that its Rush Island Energy Center cannot be “hastily disconnected” from the grid without posing risks to grid reliability. Plus, COVID-19 cases continue to set unwanted records in Missouri. The seven-day rolling average for new cases hit a high of 7,058 on Saturday, and surging hospitalizations left only about 15% of the state’s hospital beds available.


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Missouri hospitals nearing capacity as COVID cases soarAbout 15% of the state’s hospital beds are available, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services. (Associated Press) Ameren wants more time to close Rush Island coal plantThe St. Louis utility said reliability of service would be at risk if the plant was closed sooner than 2024, despite recent pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice. (St. Louis Business Journal Tax errors cost St. Louis Downtown Community Improvement District more than $650,000Mistakes in assessments resulted in miscalculated tax bills over the past decade and added to criticism that the district is mismanaged. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) St. Louis’ Missouri Historical Society locations close temporarilyThe organization cited the ongoing omicron surge in closing three locations until February. (St. Louis Business Journal)


Say that again

“I’m not quite sure what is going on, but I hope they figure it out.”

That’s Vickie Barnes, who typically rides Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner route between Kansas City and St. Louis a few times per month for work. Passengers like Barnes are adjusting to a reduced train schedule because Amtrak cut service between Kansas City and St. Louis in half last week, KCUR reports. Now, the rail operator offers only one round trip between the two cities each day. Ridership on the route has suffered amid disruptions the last few years, and now COVID-19 relief dollars that had helped temporarily fund the service have run out.


Go figure

$15

That’s the minimum hourly wage Missouri state employees would make under a plan being promoted by Gov. Mike Parson. Hearings over the $91 million proposal are starting this week, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The governor also wants to increase pay by 5.5% for state social service workers, prison guards and mental health professionals. Supporters of the proposal argue it could help curb high vacancy and turnover rates among Missouri state employees, who make some of the lowest wages of any state workers in the country.


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This tweet captured some of the colorful scenes from the film “The Green Knight.” On Saturday, that film captured a high-profile award for cinematography. The National Society of Film Critics recognized Columbia native Andrew Droz Palermo for Best Cinematography for his work on “The Green Knight,” according to the Columbia Missourian. The fantasy film is available to stream on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.


Hello, my name is

Small Business Superstar

This entrepreneurship program is accepting nominations and applications through Feb. 7 for any small business in the Kansas City metro area, according to Startland News. The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce launched the program in 2021 as a way to celebrate and connect local small businesses. It recognized around 1,200 small businesses in 2021. Participants receive access to events, promotional materials and other chamber resources. Daniel Smith, a local entrepreneur who helped develop the program, said its importance goes beyond those perks. “We need to applaud the efforts of those who have the ability to keep their doors open and thrive in the midst of probably the hardest time they have had as an owner,” Smith said.


It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.


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