Missouri State Representative Ken Wilson represents district 12 in the Missouri State House of Representatives. For more information on our Opinion Section and why we publish notes like these please click here.
Cami Wagers is a small-business owner from Clay County. As the proprietor of Cook’s Corner Café in Smithville, she once had the vision of turning her beloved café into a chain of restaurants. However, over the past few years it became increasingly clear that Missouri’s flawed welfare system would sabotage this dream.
This month, Cami had to drastically cut her café’s hours due to being unable to find adequate staff. Over the years, she found that many of the people she hired had no plans to work substantial hours. Instead, due to flawed government incentives, they preferred to work fewer hours to ensure they were still eligible for state benefits.
At Cook’s Corner Café, it has become all too common to lose an employee because they need to keep their income below a certain amount. If this trend continues, Cami will likely be forced to close her business.
In 2007, Cami’s mother and aunt founded Cook’s Corner Café. If our state doesn’t update our benefits system, small businesses such as this will be forced to close down and create an even greater need for welfare. We must help those in need, while incentivizing them to work hard and improve their position in life. This can be accomplished with a welfare program that doesn’t incentivize individuals to work fewer hours. When a hard working Missourian must choose between working extra hours or losing their SNAP benefits, we know our system is flawed. We also need to ensure our small businesses can count on their employees and not have to worry about them needing reduced hours to maintain their benefits.
In today’s economic climate, hard-working Missourians are struggling to keep their businesses open. All the while, government programs discourage hard working people from realizing their full potential. This distinctly un-American system hurts both business owners and taxpayers. Common-sense reforms must be considered to help fight the problem.
One solution is to gradually decrease benefits as income increases. Another option is for Missouri to institute an Earned Income Tax Credit. By establishing this program, the state would allow for low-income working families to keep more of their hard-earned money. Changes like these encourage hard work that will lift Missourians out of poverty and help our small businesses, like Cami’s.