Business leaders say minimum wage hike ignores regional differences
Some business leaders are decrying what they saw was the failure of legislators to consider the differences among regions within the state when they were debating increasing the minimum wage ahead of the vote to raise it to $15 an hour over the next six years.
The Illinois House voted Thursday, largely along party lines, to incrementally raise the wage, beginning with a $1 increase on Jan. 1 from $8.25 to $9.25 per hour.
In a statement following the vote, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said, "Today is a resounding victory for the 1.4 million Illinoisans who will soon get a hard-earned and well-deserved raise.
“After nearly a decade of delay, I applaud the House and Senate for passing a living wage with the fierce urgency this moment requires.”
But Jeff Griffin, president of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, said the move will have real world costs, hitting nonprofits and restaurants.
Griffin accused lawmakers of stifling debate, including his own voice. He was invited to speak Wednesday, but his expected 2 p.m. appearance was cancelled late that morning. Griffin said he was set to make an argument centered on the failure to differentiate among regions.
"There has been no discussion on regionalization, he told the West Central Reporter. "Here in Peoria is not the same as Chicago."
The Chamber canvassed business leaders in central Illinois ahead of the vote. Just over 90 percent reported being concerned.