Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Tag: Missouri

Minimum Wage – St. Louis, MO

Judge strikes down St. Louis’ minimum wage increase hours before it takes effect, By Nicholas J.C. Pistor, October 16, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “A circuit judge struck down the city’s minimum wage law on Wednesday just hours before it was set to go into force. Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer issued a sobering blow to the city’s law just after 4:30 p.m., declaring it void and out of step with state law. The city quickly said it would appeal to a higher court…”

Unemployment Benefits – Missouri

Fight brewing over Missouri cutting jobless benefits, By Jason Hancock, October 4, 2015, Kansas City Star: “It took six years for Missouri’s unemployment rate to return to pre-recession levels, finally dropping below 6 percent last summer. It has remained there ever since. Under a bill passed recently by lawmakers over the objections of the governor, a jobless rate that low will mean a dramatic reduction in how long out-of-work Missourians can receive unemployment benefits. The new law is supposed to go into effect in January. Whether it will isn’t clear. Legal wrangling may delay or even completely derail its implementation…”

Unemployment Benefits – Missouri

Missouri lawmakers cut jobless benefits, limit minimum wages, By David A. Lieb, September 17, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature put a conservative stamp on state employment laws Wednesday, voting to cut unemployment benefits to one of the shortest periods nationally while also outlawing local minimum wage increases…”

Summer Meal Programs

Efforts to feed thousands of low-income children barely make a dent in child hunger, By Elisa Crouch, July 24, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “More than 1.1 million children in Missouri and Illinois qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch during the school year. But when school’s out, the vast majority of them go hungry. It’s a problem that has prompted a number of school districts, public libraries and social service agencies to set up summer feeding sites so that children can be guaranteed at least one or two meals a day. Thousands of children have benefited…”

Public Defender System – Missouri

Missouri could face legal challenge for shortfalls in public defender system, By Dave Helling, July 19, 2015, Kansas City Star: “Anthony Cardarella represents dozens of clients accused of crimes who are considered too poor to pay for the legal help the U.S. Constitution guarantees them. The public defender is busy, so busy he’s reminded of the classic ‘I Love Lucy’ episode in which a conveyor belt of candy passes far too quickly for the comic to keep pace. ‘It’s a lot like that,’ he said. Cardarella’s heavy workload isn’t unique. Each of Missouri’s public defenders will average more than 200 cases this year, everything from murders and serious felonies to juvenile cases and probation violations. That’s about four cases a week…”

Court Fines and the Poor

‘Sweeping’ court reform comes as Nixon signs bill to cap cities’ revenue, end predatory habits, By Robert Patrick and Stephen Deere, July 10, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday signed a broad municipal court reform bill that will cap court revenue and impose new requirements in an attempt to end what the bill’s sponsor called predatory practices aimed at the poor. Nixon called the reform bill the ‘most sweeping’ municipal court reform bill in state history, and the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, called it the ‘most significant…'”

Welfare Reform – Missouri

After his welfare limits veto is overridden, Nixon vetoes unemployment changes, By Jason Hancock, May 5, 2015, Kansas City Star: “Lawmakers voted Tuesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would cut thousands of low-income Missourians off of a federal welfare program.  Meantime, Nixon vetoed a separate bill that would cut the amount of time a laid-off worker could collect jobless benefits to 13 weeks from 20 weeks. Republican leaders spoke confidently that they could override that veto, too…”

Affordable Housing – Springfield, MO

Despite efforts of task force, Springfield becomes top metro area for poverty, By Stephen Herzog, March 14, 2015, Springfield News-Leader: “It’s difficult to pinpoint where Misty Middleton’s day begins and ends.  She works overnight, 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., in the health care industry. ‘I check on a lady every two hours and reposition her,’ she said. ‘I get two or three, maybe four hours of sleep on a good night.’  She doesn’t sleep much at home. When she’s not on the clock, she’s either at nursing school, studying or coordinating meals and school for her five children. It’s a struggle, but she won’t quit, saying: ‘We have to get out of this place.’  She’s specifically talking about the family’s apartment, in a neighborhood with a bad reputation.  She could just as easily be referring to the never-ending fight to get out of poverty — a cyclical, tough and sometimes hopeless situation that more and more Springfield families now face…”

Section 8 Housing – St. Louis, MO

St. Louis passes bills to reduce Section 8 concentration in poor neighborhoods, By Walker Moskop, February 26, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The Section 8 housing voucher program is designed to avoid the challenges of concentrated poverty typically associated with traditional public housing. Tenants receive rent subsidy vouchers from a local housing authority and can redeem them anywhere landlords accept them, so long as properties meet certain standards.  In the end, though, most voucher recipients in St. Louis still end up clustered in lower-income communities.  In an attempt to alleviate that concentration, St. Louis passed two measures last week aimed at making it easier for landlords to participate in the program while also banning the practice of rejecting tenants because they have vouchers…”

Court Fines and the Poor

  • Civil rights attorneys sue Ferguson over ‘debtors prisons’, By Joseph Shapiro, February 8, 2015, National Public Radio: “In a new challenge to police practices in Ferguson, Mo., a group of civil rights lawyers is suing the city over the way people are jailed when they fail to pay fines for traffic tickets and other minor offenses. The lawsuit, filed Sunday night on the eve of the six-month anniversary of the police shooting of Michael Brown, alleges that the city violates the Constitution by jailing people without adequately considering whether they were indigent and, as a result, unable to pay. The suit is filed on behalf of 11 plaintiffs who say they were too poor to pay but were then jailed — sometimes for two weeks or more…”
  • Does Ferguson run ‘debtor’s prison’? Lawsuit targets a source of unrest, By Harry Bruinius, February 9, 2015, Christian Science Monitor: “A lawsuit filed Sunday aims to correct one of the driving factors behind the racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo., last summer: a local court system that, critics say, systematically jailed people too poor to pay fines accumulated from traffic tickets or other minor infractions. A kind of 19th-century ‘debtor’s prison’ has been in place for years in Ferguson and nearby Jennings, Mo., say those who filed the lawsuit. The result, they add, is ‘a Dickensian system that flagrantly violates the basic constitutional and human rights of our community’s most vulnerable people.’ The lawsuit comes at a time when several states and cities – including Ferguson – are beginning to address the grievances laid bare last summer. Ferguson has just not gone far enough or fast enough, the lawsuit claims…”

State Minimum Wages – Ohio, Missouri

  • Ohio’s minimum wage increase expected to boost economy by $40 million, By Ray Jablonski, December 18, 2014, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio’s minimum wage will increase slightly on Jan. 1, which is expected to provide a boost to the state’s economy. As the calendar flips to 2015, Ohio’s minimum wage will increase by 15 cents to $8.10 per hour, benefiting an estimated 313,000 low-wage workers in the state, according to a release from the National Employment Law Project, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that advocates on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers. In addition, the minimum wage for tipped workers in Ohio will rise by 7 cents to $4.05 per hour…”
  • Missouri’s minimum wage will rise in 2015, but there will be no change in Kansas, By Diane Stafford, December 17, 2014, Kansas City Star: “Cost-of-living adjustments built into Missouri’s minimum wage law will push the state’s wage floor up to $7.65 an hour on Jan. 1. The state’s minimum has been $7.50 an hour in 2014. Missouri is among 29 states that have, or will have as of Jan. 1, state minimums that are higher than the federal rate of $7.25 an hour. In states that have their own minimum wage statutes, the higher of the state and federal rates must by paid by employers who are covered by the laws. Workers in Kansas fall under the federal rate, which has not been raised since 2009…”

Child Care Subsidies – Missouri

Participation in subsidized child care drops in Missouri, By Nancy Cambria, November 17, 2014, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “In the span of a year, Missouri lost more children than any other state from a federal program that helps working parents pay for child care. The figures, from an October survey by the Center for Law and Social Policy, or CLASP, show enrollment has dropped by 12,300 children statewide — more than a quarter of the net loss of enrollment nationwide. The report notes that in 2013 participation in the child care subsidy program hit a 15-year low despite a rise in child poverty and stagnant wages in service jobs typically filled by the poor. Last year about 1.5 million children used the subsidy per month versus a program high of 1.8 million per month in 2006…”

Medicaid Reimbursement Rates

Missouri primary care doctors face substantial Medicaid cut, By Jordan Shapiro, November 6, 2014, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Justin Puckett, an osteopathic physician from Kirksville, Mo., will have a major decision to make at the start of 2015 — whether his family medicine practice can continue to treat Medicaid patients. Looming over Puckett and other primary care doctors is a cut to their reimbursement rate that is set to take effect at the end of this year, barring action from a lameduck Congress reeling from Tuesday’s Republican electoral wave. ‘We are still crossing our fingers,’ he said. Under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, primary care doctors across the country were paid more for treating Medicaid patients during the last two years. But that boost is set to expire, leaving some providers and their patients in a tough spot…”

Child Care Subsidies – Missouri

Missouri’s child care subsidies are going to illegal day cares, By Nancy Cambria, August 16, 2014, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “When state regulators acted on a tip last year that an unlicensed home day care in the West End neighborhood of St. Louis was illegal, they found the provider watching 15 children. Of the 15 in her care, nine were related to the caregiver and six were not, state records show. Missouri law allows unlicensed providers to serve an unlimited number of related children, including nieces, nephews and grandchildren. But it limits unrelated children to four. So the regulators found the provider was over the limit by two kids — and running an illegal day care. Yet, records show, that didn’t stop the state of Missouri from paying her $1,103 in child care subsidies that month for six children. Or to continue paying her an average $807 in subsidies every month since…”

State Poverty Rates – Missouri, Oklahoma

  • Report: 1 in 4 Missouri kids lives in poverty, By Kris Hilgedick, January 16, 2014, News Tribune: “More Missourians are slipping into poverty every year, a coalition of activists said Wednesday. The rate of poverty in Missouri has risen steadily over the past few years, up from 13.4 percent in 2008 to 16.2 percent today. Nearly one in every four children lives in poverty in the Show-Me State. ‘An increase of 3 percent is not huge, but it’s 179,000 more people,’ said Jessica Long, spokesperson for the Missouri Association for Community Action Inc., based in Jefferson City. ‘It’s more than the populations of Jefferson City and Columbia combined.’ Members of the Missourians to End Poverty coalition gathered in a Capitol hearing room on Wednesday morning to release their 2014 state-of-the-state report. The report revealed that out of the more than 6 million people living in the state, 947,792 of them live at or below the federal poverty level. More than 400,000 residents live in extreme poverty…”
  • Poverty rate in St. Louis County, city up from previous years, By Alex Stuckey, January 16, 2014, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “As poverty rates increase in Missouri and St. Louis County, a statewide coalition is bringing the numbers to light and calling for action. The Missourians to End Poverty coalition released a report Wednesday showing that poverty was up in the St. Louis area and statewide. In St. Louis County, 12.1 percent of the population was impoverished in 2012, up from 11.9 percent the previous year, according to the report. In the city of St. Louis, 29.3 percent of residents were impoverished, an increase from the 2011 figure of 27.2 percent…”
  • Oklahoma Watch: Poverty declines in Oklahoma, but disturbing trends persist, By Warren Vieth, January 11, 2014, The Oklahoman: “Go to any public place in Oklahoma with a broad cross-section of people and take a look around. Every sixth Oklahoman you see, on average, will be officially poor. That’s a big improvement over 50 years ago, when the average was closer to one in three. Much of the progress came during the decade following President Lyndon Johnson’s Jan. 8, 1964, promise to wage an ‘unconditional’ war on poverty. Congress followed up by expanding Social Security and food stamps and launching programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start and Job Corps…”

State Medicaid Program – Missouri

Suggestions flow as Missouri legislators weigh options for Medicaid, By Virginia Young, August 15, 2013, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Give patients with chronic diseases a health care team. Monitor a state database to spot abuse of prescription drugs. Reward pregnant teens who keep their doctor appointments. Those were among the many suggestions that flowed Wednesday to a Senate committee examining ways to improve the quality and efficiency of Medicaid, the joint state and federal health care program for the poor. The Senate hearing was one of two held Wednesday as Missouri legislators grapple with whether to expand Medicaid to cover an additional 260,000 people, as envisioned by the federal Affordable Care Act…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Politics complicates TennCare discussion, By Chas Sisk, June 10, 2013, The Tennessean: “Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is nearing a decision on whether to push for an expansion of TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program, but questions remain about how the plan would be structured and whether it could win approval from state and federal officials. After more than two months of discussions with federal officials over a proposal to buy private insurance for the poor, Haslam expects to know by the end of the summer whether to recommend that Tennessee join the 29 states that already have committed to expanding their Medicaid programs…”
  • Medicaid expansion gets hearing in House, By Mary K. Reinhart, June 10, 2013, Arizona Republic: “Facing a looming budget deadline and a bitterly divided Republican caucus, the state House today takes up Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan to expand Medicaid along with a controversial abortion bill some say is designed to kill the governor’s top legislative priority. The House Appropriations Committee will hold what is expected to be a contentious hearing on the two bills, likely ending with the defeat of Senate Bill 1492, which outlines Brewer’s plan to broaden Medicaid eligibility under the federal health-care overhaul…”
  • Push for Medicaid expansion continues beyond session, By Elizabeth Crisp, June 10, 2013, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Missouri’s Republican-controlled Legislature eschewed Medicaid expansion this session, but supporters are holding out hope for next year. ‘We all know that we need to expand Medicaid. Everyone knows that,’ said Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat. ‘This will save many lives, and I am optimistic that the right thing will be done.’ Republican legislative leaders have taken recent actions that appear to hint toward movement on the issue in the coming months. They also have expressed optimism over the potential to reform the health care program for the poor, using the expansion as a launch pad…”
  • Medicaid expansion unlikely to be in budget, but it’s far from dead, By Robert Higgs, June 9, 2013, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “More and more, the chances that an expansion of Ohio’s Medicaid program will appear in the state budget appear to be less and less. But the debate is far from over. While they hedge that there are no guarantees, legislators, lobbyists and the administration, continue to talk with optimism that something will be done to provide health coverage for the working poor…”

Early Childhood Education – Missouri

Missouri early childhood advocates hope to avoid repeat of cuts last year, By Nancy Cambria, April 20, 2013, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “William Blaylock knows from experience how state budget negotiations currently going on in Jefferson City can affect his work directing a day care. Last year — in what was widely viewed as a bad year for early childhood education — the Missouri Legislature trimmed $14 million in funding for child care and preschool programs, mostly in last-minute deals to balance the budget. Blaylock said the cuts placed his preschool, CoCo’s Kidz of St. Louis, in a lurch. The licensed center lost all of its 17 subsidized slots for infants and toddlers in low-income families…”

Medicaid Expansion – Ohio, Missouri

  • House Democrats introduce stand-alone bill to expand Medicaid for Ohio’s working poor, By Robert Higgs, April 10, 2013, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “One day after Republicans stripped it out of the state budget plan, House Democrats introduced a bill to expand Medicaid to cover Ohio’s working poor, as was proposed by Gov. John Kasich. The bill, introduced by Reps. Nickie J. Antonio of Lakewood and John Patrick Carney of Columbus, could offer a way for the plan to be approved with a bipartisan vote, said Rep. Armond Budish, the House minority leader and a Democrat from Beachwood…”
  • Nixon meets with Senate Republicans to discuss Medicaid, By Elizabeth Crisp, April 10, 2013, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Gov. Jay Nixon continued his push to expand Missouri’s Medicaid program on Tuesday, meeting with senators to try to woo support and scheduling time to talk to a top federal official about reform options. But with less than six weeks left in the legislative session, no deal has been reached to expand the program to provide health care coverage for thousands of low-income Missourians…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Mo. House committee approves GOP-backed Medicaid alternative, By Elizabeth Crisp, April 4, 2013, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “A Missouri House committee has approved a Republican alternative to the Medicaid expansion plan outlined in the federal Affordable Care Act, setting up the proposal for a potential debate on the House floor. The decision on whether to expand Missouri’s health care program for the poor has been one of the most debated topics of the session. Democrat-backed expansion efforts have swiftly been killed this session, but the House Government Oversight Committee gave bipartisan support Wednesday evening to a reform-based bill that would expand coverage in Missouri — but not to the level outlined in the federal health care law. Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, privately met with House Republicans earlier in the day to try to persuade them to support the larger expansion of Medicaid. He has spent several weeks traveling the state to speak in favor of it, but Republicans who control both chambers of the Legislature have so far opposed it…”
  • Corbett considers using Medicaid expansion funds for private insurance, By Amy Worden, April 3, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Gov. Corbett, under pressure to accept a federal expansion of Medicaid, said Wednesday that he is looking at ways to use those same dollars to fund private coverage for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians. Corbett has resisted opting into the Medicaid expansion envisioned under President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, saying he is concerned it would be too costly for the state down the road. He did not commit to changing his mind on Wednesday. After a late Tuesday meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, however, he said he may consider pursuing a private plan similar to what Arkansas, Ohio and a handful of other states are exploring…”
  • Lawmakers get jump on Medicaid expansion debate, By Martha Stoddard, April 4, 2013, Omaha World-Herald: “Nebraska lawmakers are expected to start their debate about expanding the Medicaid program to low-income adults in about two weeks. In anticipation, five state senators joined the leader of the Platte Institute on Wednesday to show their opposition to the idea…”