ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The Illinois Senate voted 39 – 18 to approve Governor Pritzker’s minimum wage plan raising the wage floor to $15 by 2025.
The legislation, introduced hours before the vote was taken, would raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 to $15 dollars per hour over the course of the next six years.
Some say the change will take a massive toll on businesses, non-profits, and government agencies. The bill now heads to the House.
State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) called the approval a “rushed, job-killing” move by lawmakers.
“This isn’t about whether or not the minimum wage should be increased, it’s about how much, how fast, and what we can do to minimize the loss of jobs, especially downstate,” said Barickman. “Unfortunately this legislation doesn’t really do much of anything on any of those fronts.”
Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association released the following statement after the Senate approved the legislation:
Manufacturers across Illinois are alarmed by the Senate’s quick approval of legislation to raise the minimum wage across the state. This is particularly concerning for employers outside Chicago, where the cost of living is lower and it will be more difficult to absorb this 82 percent wage hike over a short five year period of time.
The IMA will continue to push compromise proposals in the House in the hope (sic) legislators recognize the detrimental impact this will have on businesses and the communities they anchor.
State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) released the following statement:
Since the day I was sworn in to the Senate, I have pledged to do all I can to help make lives easier for families across Champaign and Vermilion Counties. By increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 for the majority of workers, we are achieving the goal of lifting working families up to improve their quality of life.
Workers with full-time jobs should never be forced to live in poverty. Minimum wage workers are employed in many of the service jobs that are vital to the care of the most vulnerable and in jobs that serve the public. They deserve a fair wage that respects the work they do in service to others.
Putting the minimum wage on a clear and responsible path toward $15 an hour will provide Illinois’ hardest workers with dignity, fairness and stability.
President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Todd Maisch released the following statement:
Increasing the minimum wage by 82 percent over the next five years would harm small businesses, kill jobs and eliminate opportunities for the workers who need them the most.
We recognize an increase may very well become law. However, regional market wages should be considered, along with additional options for seasonal and training wages and preemption of local governments further increasing the new wage. We hope legislators will work with the business community to implement practical solutions that mitigate the impact on small businesses.
The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted to oppose the minimum wage increase. Laura Weis, president & CEO of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, said:
Illinois is already a high-cost state to do business and this proposal is a massive increase on that cost. The Chamber hosted a minimum wage forum with 35+ local business owners participating to voice their concerns to our state elected officials. Many business leaders who testified stated that with this kind of mandated wage increase, the state will force them to increase their prices; not hire new employees; and/or they will be forced to terminate lower skilled employees and have that work absorbed by higher skilled employees or technology. While the attempt by our elected officials may be to help lift low wage earners, we have great concern for what this proposal will do to the lower skilled worker and overall unemployment in Illinois.
While we do not support a $15 minimum wage, we understand the political reality and ask for our elected officials to be really thoughtful on how this bill is implemented should it pass. The Chamber recommends the State of Illinois implement a regional minimum wage. There is a huge cost of living difference between the Chicago area and downstate Illinois. We want to see a longer phase-in to a $15 per hour minimum wage which is currently proposed over 5 years to become a 10 year phase-in for downstate. We also request a lesser minimum wage increase based on age (ages 16 to 18) and for employees in training.
This legislation has consequences that go beyond the impact of just privately owned businesses. It would be prudent for the governor and lawmakers to slow this process down, learn what it means to have to make a payroll and assess the full impact before leveling this mandate on Illinois businesses, not-for-profit organizations and public entities like park districts. The majority of our Chamber members are small business owners. We live 50 minutes from a bordering state where the cost to do business is cheaper. Communities in southern Illinois, where the cost of living is significantly cheaper than Chicago, are also bordering state that have a lower cost to do business. The speed in which this bill is moving demonstrates that our elected officials are acting on emotion and while their hearts might be in the right place, they are not looking at the big financial picture of the state which is already plagued with huge financial problems. This will not help solve those huge financial problems.
The proposal raises the minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $9.25, starting January 1, 2020. The next increase will be from $9.25 per hour to $10 on July 1, 2020. From there, the minimum wage will increase $1 per hour every January 1 until it reaches $15 per hour.
State Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), who opposed the legislation when it came before the Senate, issued the following statement:
This legislation only adds to the burdens placed on Illinois’ employers, backing them into a corner, raising costs for consumers and posing a threat to our business sector. Just consider the harm this will have on colleges and universities. We’re looking at millions of dollars being added to their overhead, potential decreases in enrollment and the elimination of student worker programs.
Instead of focusing on pro-business, pro-growth reforms, we’re entertaining a political ploy filled with false promises and overlooks the unintended effects of a massive wage increase. This isn’t good business for our state and this isn’t a measure I will support.