Last week in Springfield, the bill to increase the minimum wage rate in Illinois was debated and passed in the House of Representatives.
The bill, Senate Bill 1, would increase the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $15 an hour statewide. It would take effect by way of step increases over the next six years with the first increase taking effect on January 1, 2020. It effectively raises the wage by 33% in what is essentially the first year (367 days) and by nearly 82% over all.
As a member on the Labor and Commerce Committee in the House, I had an opportunity to hear the bill presented in committee, with various panels providing testimony on the issue. At that time, I voiced my concerns on the measure, which included the increased cost for businesses and the potential loss of jobs and opportunity it will create, especially when Illinois continually loses families and businesses to neighboring states. Later in the week, during the debate on the bill in the House, I listened to many of my colleagues express similar concerns, while asking questions which could not be answered by the bill’s sponsor.
SB1 was pushed through the legislative process and involved no input, discussion, or negotiation from the House Republicans. I don’t think this is any way to make dramatic policy changes, especially one that will largely impact businesses, employers, and employees. Despite the entirely one-sided process behind this bill, I have additional doubts that increasing the minimum wage rate in Illinois will be beneficial to our state and our residents, especially at a time when there are so many other pertinent challenges we should address first. We cannot afford to lose any more businesses or residents and increasing Illinois’ minimum wage will only increase that struggle.
I certainly support helping our lowest wage earners earn a better living; but this was not the way to do it. We need to tackle the problems Illinois faces regarding pensions, taxes, unbalanced budgets and regulations. Fixing these issues would help us bring new employers with good paying jobs to Illinois causing its own upward pressure on wages. I was willing to work with the Democrats on these issues before this bill passed and stand willing to work with them now. There is far more that we still need to accomplish, and the best way to do that is through bipartisanship.
Ultimately, SB1 was passed in the House on Thursday, February 14th, with 69 members voting in favor of the legislation. It will now move forward to Governor JB Pritzker for his signature.
The big push to pass the minimum wage increase came from Governor JB Pritzker, so that it could be signed before his budget address on February 20th. The ultimate effect of the wage increase on the state budget is yet to be seen, but we do know that the State of Illinois will need to find hundreds of millions of dollars more in revenue to meet the costs created by the increase.
The State of Illinois has not had the best history in terms of adopting a balanced budget, or a budget passed by the General Assembly on time by the end of spring session. I am hopeful that this year we can cooperatively work together to pass a budget that will serve the best interests of our residents. This will be no easy feat. With the growing amount of debt that Illinois has, and the increasing number of challenges ahead of us, we as lawmakers have our work cut out for us.
I am interested in hearing Governor Pritzker’s proposals for budgeting, and I would encourage you to tune into watch the Governor’s Budget Address. You can do so on the ilga.gov website under the audio/video section. The Governor’s Address will begin at noon on Wednesday February 20th.
The deadline to file legislation was February 15th. This year I am pursuing several pieces of legislation to reform Worker’s Compensation. Through the package of bills I have filed, I hope to provide ample reform to create a better business climate in our state. With the cost of business only increasing in our state, making significant changes to this system will be beneficial to helping residents, families, and businesses grow and thrive in Illinois. I also filed legislation save the taxpayers money by merging the State Comptroller’s office with the State Treasurer’s office and make the state safer by enhancing penalties on those who would break the law. Furthermore, I continue to work on additional legislation to be passed by the 101st General Assembly to save the taxpayers money and make Illinois a better place for us and our families. To view all of my legislation, in addition to other members’ bills I am sponsoring this year, you can visit my profile on ilga.gov.
This tax season there are new potential tax credits and deductions available to you, that could affect your tax refund. The Illinois CPA Society has produced an outline including all potential tax credits and deductions available to taxpayers this year. Throughout the tax filing season, the CPA Society has aimed to provide useful information to the public to assist residents in preparing their tax returns. You can access their information here.
I am hosting a few upcoming events around the 65th District over the next few weeks. I would encourage you to attend to meet with me in person, hear about legislation I am pursing in Springfield, and give me feedback on other state issues being discussed in the General Assembly.
The first event will be a Meet & Greet on Monday, March 11th. It will be held at the Huntley Public Library, 11000 Ruth Road, from 10:00am—Noon. I understand that my District Office in St. Charles may not be convenient for everyone, and this event is a great opportunity for residents to meet me and have a productive visit in a different setting, perhaps closer to where you live!
The second event is an Open House at my District Office in St. Charles. It will be held on March 30th from 10:00am—Noon at 2325 Dean Street, Suite 800. I am excited to welcome constituents to my District Office for this event, so you can see where my office is located, hear about the services we provide, and more!
Should you have any questions about these two upcoming events, I would encourage you to contact my district office by phone (630) 797-5530 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.