The Illinois Senate jammed through a partisan minimum wage hike despite the need for further negotiations and regional protections, according to State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington).
“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.”
The legislation, introduced hours before the vote was taken, would raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 to $15 dollars per hour. The change is expected to take a massive toll on businesses, non-profits, and government agencies as well. Estimates placed the cost of the increase at over $1 billion for direct state employees. Universities would face tens of millions in new costs with the potential for thousands of student employee layoffs. According to several schools, the hike will likely result in layoffs for teachers’ aids and other positions that will negatively affect in-classroom learning and/or create pressure to raise property taxes. In addition, a number of social service providers have said they may be forced to lay off staff or cut services.
The legislation featured no regional adjustments to assuage those concerns, despite the wide disparity between costs across Illinois. Barickman noted that while new Governor Pritzker had promised to move forward in a moderate, bipartisan fashion, this legislation was the first big issue on his agenda, and the resulting legislation was a partisan, one-sided approach. The bill passed the Senate on a party-line vote, 39-18, with no Republicans voting in favor, and no Democrats voting against. It is now headed to the Illinois House.
“I hope that this isn’t an example of how negotiations are going to proceed this spring, because the people of Illinois don’t need any more partisan showdowns,” said Barickman. “I’m also hopeful that this process results in a different, more moderate product once the negotiations begin in the House.”