To the Editor:
I'm disappointed in what happened in Illinois on Thursday. The passage of an 82 percent increase in our minimum wage will hit us in many ways. My disappointment is not because the minimum wage increased, we needed some adjustment, but the manner and method that $15 an hour minimum wage came to pass and the steep rise we will see immediately, I fear will have consequences we haven't seen before in any state.
Within the first 12 months and a day we will see a $2.75 per hour increase, a 33 percent increase. I have heard from many businesses who have shared they will reduce or eliminate positions. Yes, there are businesses and not-for-profits who will be hit hard by this and others who will weather the storm – not everyone will leave or close. And yes, $8.25 is not a living wage. You can't raise a family on that.
So much misinformation on social media with this topic has clouded what should have been a thoughtful dialogue. Yes, it is emotional, yes some low wage workers will get a boost, yes some workers will lose jobs due to cutbacks and yes some businesses will not hire additional employees and yes those who keep their jobs will have more each week to spend.
No matter if you are for the increase or against, we are in uncharted territory as a state as we undertake this massive change to our economy. The speed with which it was rammed through is unlike many bills in other years.
It was mentioned multiple times during debate that complaints about the bill could have been sorted out at "the negotiating table" but that Republicans chose not to do that. This is false. There was no negotiating. There was no dialogue.
Our state, where businesses already struggle to keep the doors open due to an unfriendly business environment, and farmers who struggle without the ability charge more on the commodities they sell, will be placed at a distinct disadvantage with respect to other states. We asked multiple times for the opportunity to visit these issues but were denied and shut out of the process.
There was bipartisan concern on this bill. There were Democrats who also voted against this bill. I voted no because the method and manner in this increase will have consequences that could have been reconciled in a collaborative manner if it was allowed.
State Representative, R-Sycamore