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Wage Hike for Missouri PCAs Once Again Rejected by Lawmakers

May 11, 2016

A wage increase for Missouri personal care attendants (PCAs) was rejected by the state House on May 3, seemingly ending a nearly two-year battle to defeat a modest pay raise for these low-wage caregivers.

State Rep. Margo McNeil (D), a supporter of the raise, told the Associated Press that the House’s vote was “mean-spirited” and a “great disservice for the people in our own districts who are struggling to make ends meet as they are taking care of our loved ones.”

Earlier this year, the state Senate passed a resolution to suspend the pay increase, which was originally agreed upon in 2014.

Gov. Jay Nixon (D) vetoed that resolution (pdf) on February 26. However, the recent House vote overrode Nixon’s veto of the Senate resolution by a tally of 119-36.

Battle Began in 2014

The wage increase was originally part of a 2014 contract between the state and the Missouri Home Care Union, which represents approximately 8,000 Missouri PCAs.

The contract would have allowed consumers to choose whether to raise their PCAs’ wages to as high as $10.15/hour. Because the proposed wage hike did not affect the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates, state lawmakers did not have to sign off on it.

However, in January 2015, Nixon took the legislatively unnecessary step of submitting the wage increase to the legislature for approval in the form of an administrative rule. Since then, Missouri lawmakers have consistently voted to suspend the measure.

State Rep. Jay Barnes (R), the leading critic of the wage hike, has said he does not necessarily oppose the policy itself, but rather its origins in the state’s executive branch.

“The executive branch does not get a blank check to do whatever it wants whenever it wants,” Barnes told the Missouri Times on May 3. “This is about more than a policy. It is about the underlying rule of law that is bigger than this resolution, that is bigger than any resolution that will come before this body this year.”

— by Matthew Ozga

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