Editorial: A word of advice for Gov. Eric Greitens — sign one bill and veto two

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens should follow through on the promise to fund UMKC’s downtown arts campus.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens should follow through on the promise to fund UMKC’s downtown arts campus.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has the opportunity to signal his commitment to fairness and equality with two vetoes and one signature on key legislation.

That’s what Greitens should provide to fairly compensate hard-working, low-wage Missourians for their labor, to ensure employees who face discrimination have legal recourse, and to follow through on a promise to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

First, veto the bill that was passed in the waning hours of the Missouri General Assembly’s recently concluded regular session. The measure blocks Missouri cities from raising their minimum wage above the state limit of $7.70.

Both Kansas City and St. Louis have boosted their minimum wage, seeking a middle ground that would benefit workers without unfairly harming businesses. These are hard-won compromises.

But the Missouri General Assembly pulled the rug out from both cities.

St. Louis had already raised its wage. The Kansas City Council had agreed to phase in a higher minimum wage, and a separate wage proposition is set to appear on the August ballot.

Missouri cities should retain the right to set wage thresholds as they see fit, allowing urban areas to address higher costs of living and increasingly competitive hiring markets.

Legislation to circumvent the will of Missouri cities was one of lawmakers’ last acts this session. It was a disappointing end to the regular session. Greitens should veto the bill.

Next, Greitens should not allow the state’s civil rights protections to be diluted.

The General Assembly passed legislation making it more difficult for people to win cases under Missouri’s Human Rights Act. Adding insult to this injury to fairness, the measure was championed by a senator who is being sued under the very statute that he sought to undercut.

The bill’s wrong-headed intent alone should convince the governor to veto it. But the conflict of interest clouding the issue is another reason to reject the legislation. If it becomes law, the governor would send a message that Missouri is a willing accomplice to those who would discriminate.

Finally, Greitens should greenlight UMKC’s downtown arts campus.

The agreement for a public-private collaboration on the $96 million project was not hammered out on Greitens’ watch. Discussions began during former Gov. Jay Nixon’s tenure. So we understand that the governor is being asked to fulfill someone else’s promise.

But the project deserves support based on the merits. And donors in Kansas City quickly came through with their portion of the agreed-upon funding. The House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to allow the state to borrow $48 million through a bond issue to complete the financing of the project.

Once completed, UMKC will move its Conservatory of Music and Dance to a site south of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The new, state-owned facility will be a game-changing addition to UMKC’s arts programs and a jewel for Kansas City.

With one signature and two vetoes, the governor can deliver a boost to Kansas City and dispense with legislation that would do more harm than good.