|
|
Morton Times-News - Morton, IL
  • New minimum wage law proposal raises questions

    • email print
  • If a new law passes, some of Illinois' lowest paid workers will be getting a raise and not everyone is happy about it.
    Gov. Pat Quinn, in his state of the state speech Feb. 6, called for the minimum wage in Illinois to be raised from $8.25 to $10 or higher.
    "Our businesses are only as good as the employees who drive their success," Quinn said in his speech. "Nobody in Illinois should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty. That's a principle as old as the Bible.
    "That's why, over the next four years, we must raise the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour."
    The federal minimum wage sits at $7.25 and Illinois is one of only a few states with a minimum wage over $8.
    "To raise the minimum wage is not good public policy," Darin LaHood, the 37th District Senator from Illinois, said, citing the loss of 50,000 jobs the last time it was raised in 2003.
    "Tackling the pension system has to be first and foremost," LaHood said. "We've run out of road and we have to solve it."
    In his fifth State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said $7.25 is too low for a national minimum wage and called for an increase to $9.
    "Even with the tax relief we've put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line," Obama said in the speech. "That's wrong."
    A worker making minimum wage earns an annual salary of $14,500.
    According to the White House's website, the majority of people benefitting from an increase in minimum wage would not be teenagers working summer jobs.
    The fact sheet provided on the White House website states that 60 percent of workers who would benefit from an increase are women, and workers who would benefit from the increase earned 46 percent of their household's salary income and total wage in 2011.
    "I kind of look at it as a double-edged sword," Marty Clinch, a member of the Germantown Hills Economic Development Committee, said. "A ma and pa business will look at it as not so good because they are on a shoestring budget and might not be able to afford the higher wages because they might not have a lot of overhead.
    "A store like a Target, for instance, can handle it because they will just increase their prices and pass the increase along to the customers. A ma and pa store can't really do that."
    While there are issues to be raised with the proposed increase, Clinch said that there are positive aspects to giving low-paid workers a mandatory raise.
    "On the other side of the double-edged sword is that if you are a ma and pa type store wanting to hire someone, you are looking at what level of experience and work you are going to get," Clinch said. "For $8 an hour, you get $8 an hour help. For $10 an hour, you get $10 an hour help. I understand what the governor is saying, that paying people better should give you a better employee and raise the standard of living for people. The whole thing is a tough issue to nail down."
    Page 2 of 2 - Some organizations, like local businesses and the Washington Chamber of Commerce, refuse to make public comments on Quinn's proposed increase.
    Jennifer Daly, the executive director and CEO of the Morton Chamber of Commerce, said she feels the proposed increase would do more harm than good.
    "It would negatively impact the bottom line for our local small businesses and cause many to have to reduce staff and increase their product and service costs," she said.
    Those harmed by the increase, Daly said, could be workers and customers.
    "A reduction in available jobs or work hours could have a negative impact on individuals currently working for local small businesses, including high school and college students and part-time and seasonal workers," Daly said. "Businesses that have no choice but to shift the increase to their customers, like daycare centers, could see reductions in their sales."

        calendar