KS pay plan for disabled workers angers advocates

Kansas legislators are considering a plan advocates say encourages employers to pay disabled workers less than the minimum wage.



March 7, 2023 - 2:18 PM

Patrick Chapman, 27, prepares for customers Thursday, March 2, 2023, at The Golden Scoop, an Overland Park, Kan., ice cream and coffee shop that employs workers with developmental disabilities, paying them more than minimum wage. But some disabled workers employed at so-called sheltered workshops are earning far less than minimum wage, an issue that has captured the attention of lawmakers in the state. Disability rights advocates say the practice is discriminatory and more than a dozen states have banned such wages. (AP Photo/Heather Hollingsworth)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are considering a proposal that many disability rights advocates say would encourage employers to keep paying disabled workers less than the minimum wage, bucking a national trend.

A Kansas House bill would expand a state income tax credit for goods and services purchased from vendors employing disabled workers, doubling the total allowed to $10 million annually. A committee approved it Monday, sending it to the full House for debate, possibly later this week.

Vendors qualify now by paying all of their disabled workers at least the minimum wage, but the measure would allow vendors to pay some workers less if those workers aren’t involved in purchases of goods and services to earn the tax credit. Supporters argue the bill would enable more vendors to participate, boosting job and vocational training opportunities for disabled people.

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