Gov. Pritzker’s first major legislative initiative is to jam through a highly controversial bill that will result in layoffs and create a billion dollar hole in the budget. The Governor’s plan is to pass it on a partisan basis with little discussion or research on it.
The “Fight for 15” , a national movement that has had legislative success in other progressive states such as New York, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Washington D.C., has made its way to Springfield. Gov. Pritzker’s goal is to placate the political class and virtue signal to his base to fulfill his campaign promise and raise the state’s current minimum wage from $8.25 to $15/hr.
Numerous studies have shown that an increase in the minimum wage has led to either a decrease in hours and benefits for low-income workers or layoffs altogether. A recent study in Seattle found that after the minimum wage increased to $13 from $9.47, there was a significant reduction of new entries into the workforce and less experienced workers were weeded out and had to find work elsewhere out of the city. While they may be well intentioned, policies like increases in the minimum wage hurt the very workers they are supposed to help.
Not only will the increase put a significant strain on business owners in Illinois’ stagnant economy, but on local governments that already levy some of the highest property taxes in the nation on struggling homeowners. Bottom line: the State simply cannot afford it. We are already drowning in debt and currently running on a budget deficit upwards of almost $3 billion.
Instead of enacting policies that discourage business and opportunity, Gov. Pritzker should push for reforms that help more people seek the American dream and find work from which they can derive meaning and dignity.