Chamber president: State should work to minimize minimum wage increase damage
As Illinois's small businesses brace for the expected minimum wage increase, the Democrat-controlled government in the state should work to keep the damage to a minimum, a Chamber of Commerce official said during a recent interview.
"We understand legislation will most likely be passed increasing the minimum wage," Todd Maisch, Chamber president and CEO, said during a Prairie State Wire email interview. "We hope the administration will work with the business community to mitigate the damages for small business owners and prevent job loss."
With legislation to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour as early as next week, the expected consequences of such an increase do not seem to be slowing it down, Maisch said.
"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy in Illinois," Maisch said. "The Chamber is concerned that requiring a statewide $15 minimum wage will force many small business to shut their doors, depriving Illinoisans of vital jobs and services."
Illinois's business community missed a similar bullet last summer when Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, vetoed House Bill 198, which would have gradually increased the state's minimum wage over four years from the current $8.25 to $15. HB 198 also would have increased the cash wage for tipped employees.
The state's current minimum wage has been in place since 2010.
In December, following his election the previous month and before his inauguration as governor earlier this month, J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said during a Springfield-area radio interview that raising wages and Illinoisans' standard of living was a priority. Pritzker, a businessman, entrepreneur and investor, promised to look for ways to minimize the blow to Illinois businesses, but he still set a six-month deadline to increase Illinois's minimum wage.
The Illinois Chamber does not believe legislating a minimum wage is the way to go, Maisch said during his Prairie State Wire interview.
"We believe the market should determine wages," he said. "For example, $15 an hour in the Chicago market may make sense, while $15 an hour in Cairo, Illinois, does not."
Other marker factors also should be considered, Maisch said.
"Regional market wages should be considered along with additional options for seasonal, teen and training wages," he said.