The forces that profit from racial division and deprivation in Jefferson City do not rest. Once again their deeds ignore the state motto: “Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.”
Legislators have disregarded the many voices of working families from across our state, black, brown, and white. These lawmakers have pushed the state of Missouri into a moral crisis. Our legislators choose to serve lobbyists, who treat them to an average of nearly $900,000 of booze, trips and steak dinners every year.
Remember the words of Isaiah: “Woe to those who make unjust laws to deprive the poor of their rights … making widows their prey, and robbing the fatherless.”
The residents of Kansas City and St. Louis voted to raise the minimum wage in those cities. But politicians in the state legislature did exactly what Isaiah the prophet warned them not to do: They disregarded our voices and took away the wage increase. In doing so, they made unjust laws. They deprived the poor. They preyed upon the widow and robbed thousands of working families across the state of Missouri from earning a living wage. They stopped thousands of small businesses from benefiting from increased purchasing power in our communities. And they ignored the will of the people.
Therefore we call on all Missouri voters this November to vote yes on Proposition B to raise our state minimum wage, and yes on Amendment 1 to make legislators listen to us — not to big money and powerful lobbyists.
We believe politics must be grounded in integrity and human dignity. The act of caring for the least among us is not an issue of the left versus the right. Rather, fair wages are a centerpiece of our deepest faith traditions. Compassion and morality must be integrated into our decisions if we are concerned for Missouri families.
Every person who works for a living should be able to make a living. To start us down that road, we must vote for Proposition B on Nov. 6 to raise the minimum wage gradually to $12 by 2023. A living wage will allow working people to care for the needs of their families.
Without a living wage, it’s impossible for parents to meet the basic cost of living to give the children of this state the support they need for a bright future. A living wage is the only way that the citizens of Missouri can realize Article I, Section 2 of the Missouri Constitution: “That all constitutional government is intended to promote the general welfare of the people; that all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry.”
Why do we even have this fight? Our political system has been working for rich campaign donors, while families who actually do the work are left behind and the gap between the rich and the poor keeps getting wider.
That’s why we need Amendment 1, the Clean Missouri initiative, to clean up Missouri politics, take power away from big money and make our voices matter more in Jefferson City.
The amendment would eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts, decrease the influence of big money in the General Assembly and require transparent records and meetings. It would require fair state legislative maps so politicians are no longer protected by safe, gerrymandered districts. It would also protect minority voting rights.
Clean Missouri has support from many people and organizations across the spectrum including Missouri Faith Voices, the League of Women Voters and the Missouri Conference of the NAACP.
To give Missouri families the economy and democracy we need, join us at RaiseUpMO.org and CleanMissouri.org.
The Rev. Dr. Rodney E. Williams is pastor of the Swope Parkway United Christian Church and president of the Kansas City Chapter of the NAACP.