Missouri's Republican governor, Eric Greitens
ERIC GREITENS: Missouri governor wants state to be more like Arkansas. Careful what he wishes for, Missouri workers.
, gave a state of the state address
yesterday that left some Arkies scratching their heads over this passage:
In county after county—in Pemiscott County, and in Dunklin County, and in Mississippi County—I spoke to people who want to work, who want a job, who want to provide for their families.
They are sick of seeing their friends have to get in a truck and drive across state lines for work.
But they look over the border—and see opportunity.They see that in Arkansas and in Tennessee, paychecks are getting bigger.
Arkansas a beacon of economic opportunity?
It's true that the minimum wage in Arkansas rose to $8.50 Jan. 1, while it rose to only $7.70 an hour in Missouri. So it's possible that minimum wage workers are commuting to Arkansas to pick up an extra $32 a week for a 40-hour week.
But .... let's look at the bigger picture. The 2015 Census data from the American Community Survey says median household income in Missouri in 2015 was $50,238, against $41,995 in Arkansas. Missouri income had grown 7.38 percent in three years while it grew 1.42 percent in Arkansas. Arkansas pays less, but it's doing a bit better job putting people to work with a 4 percent unemployment rate against Missouri's 4.7 percent.
Greitens, a Rhodes Scholar, is no dummy. And I won't say he's dishonest. Perhaps there are people so bedraggled in southern Missouri that Arkansas looks like the Promised Land, if not so much to actually reside here. But I think further down in his speech is what this reference is all about (and it isn't about raising the Missouri minimum wage):
The people have sent us a message: We must do everything in our power to put people back to work in good, high-paying jobs.
That’s why we must join 27 other states and sign Right to Work. That’s why we must do away with expensive Project Labor Agreements that drive up the costs of construction and slow down important projects in our communities.
We must repeal our state’s version of the Davis-Bacon act, which drives up the cost of important construction work that needs to get done. It hurts rural workers. It sets back rural families.
Arkansas is a Right to Work state and lacks laws that encourage better wages for workers on government jobs. Arkansas led the way on adoption
of a right to work law
in 1944, encouraged by a segregationist, anti-Semitic, anti-union rabble rouser. Has that law to prohibit required union membership been successful?
Numbers don't lie. Missouri's median income is almost 20 percent higher than Right to Work Arkansas. That's a triumph if you're an employer. Not so much if you're a worker. Unions don't call it a Right to Work for Less law for nothing.
PS: The counties the governor cited are in far southeast Missouri. No doubt there are some residents there heading down to the Arkansas taxpayer-subsidized steel jobs in Northeast Arkansas. Poor but friendly. That's Arkansas, happy to lend a helping hand to needy folks in the Bootheel.