State Sen. Chuck Weaver of Peoria released a statement after the Senate voted 39-18-0 to advance a measure to increase the minimum wage incrementally to $15.00 per hour for standard and tipped employees over a six-year ramp. Weaver said he’s concerned the effect of a “one-size-fits-all” hourly wage on downstate Illinois. Chicago currently has a minimum wage of $13 – so an increase to $15 is not as big an issue for them over six years. He said compared to downstate, where the cost of living is 20-40 percent less than Chicago, getting the minimum wage to $15 will likely result in the lowest-skilled workers being dropped out of the bottom of the workforce. He added that we have seen employees ages 16 to 19 go from being 45 percent employed in the 1980s to being 31 percent employed today. If they are not employed by age 19 and have not learned basic work skills, there is a good chance they will not get into the workforce easily. At $15.00 per hour, these young people will not have the skills that justify an employer hiring them. He has had employers tell him that they can switch to robotics when employees’ wages go higher than $12.80 per hour.
Tracy said, “Employers are leaving in droves seeking less regulation and fewer taxes in our neighboring states. Adding yet another budgetary and regulative layer to business will only fuel that outmigration.” In a press release, Tracy added: the Democrat plan passed by the Senate on Feb. 7 would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years and presents far-reaching implications for employers across the board, including an increase in annual costs for small businesses and retailers, state agencies, school districts, human service providers and hospitals. Senate Bill 1 will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration. Tracy urged her colleagues in the House to reject this legislation which would have widespread consequences for the state.