The Illinois House of Representatives passed a partisan minimum wage hike just two weeks into the new session that will cost Illinois taxpayers nearly $1.1 billion- just for state worker pay raises. Assistant House Minority Leader Representative Norine K. Hammond was a “No” vote on the bill and issued the following statement about her vote:
Representative Hammond stated, “The cost, once fully implemented, to Western Illinois University is over $4 million and the total cost to our already strapped university system is $112 million in increased spending. Community colleges and k-12 schools will see drastic increased employment costs as well.” She added, “Our bordering states, Missouri and Iowa, pay a dollar less per hour in minimum wage than Illinois currently pays. An 82% increase in our wages will lead to outsourcing for cheaper materials and/or labor. It will also send people across state lines to buy items at a price that the small business owners in Illinois simply can no longer compete with.”
When signed into law by Governor Pritzker, the legislation would raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 to $15 dollars per hour to be phased in over the next six years.
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.
Business groups wanted to voice their concern for an 82% increase but felt ignored during discussions. They, along with Republicans from the House and Senate, were pushing for a regionalization amendment in the House that would allow for lower wages outside Chicago. Unfortunately, no amendment was added, at Governor Pritzker’s urging, and the bill passed. It now awaits the Governor’s signature to become law.