Senator Chuck Weaver says local governments concerned about the impact a $15 minimum wage will have on local economies should be allowed to decide what is best for their communities.
“The new minimum wage law sets a one-size-fits-all pay increase schedule that is disproportionately tough on downstate Illinois,” Senator Weaver said. “We think local governments should be allowed to enact ordinances to set a reduced minimum wage that is less than the statewide wage required under Illinois law.”
Senator Weaver has introduced Senate Bill 3396 to provide for minimum wages based upon a percentage of the otherwise required minimum wage, depending upon the region of the State. The legislation establishes six regions for purposes of determining the minimum wage.
Municipalities and/or counties would be allowed, by a vote of the local governing body, to opt-out of the state-mandated minimum wage rates and opt-into a regionally adjusted minimum wage which will be statutorily-authorized and statutorily-approved. It provides a sliding scale type of rate – so areas with historically-low unemployment and/or higher costs of living must keep rates closer to the state-mandated hourly rate.
“When the new minimum wage law passed last year, Chicago already had a minimum wage of $13.00, so an increase over six years to $15.00 had minimal impact on Chicago business owners,” Senator Weaver said. “But downstate, where the cost of living is 20-40 percent less than in Chicago and the minimum wage started at $8.25, getting the minimum wage to $15.00 will cost job with the likely result of the lowest-skilled workers being dropped out of the bottom of the workforce. These employees that need access to starting wage jobs are the employees who do not have as many work options.”
The City of Chicago and Cook County would both be exempt from this proposal.
“This would keep the minimum wage higher in higher cost-of-living areas and would allow for a lower wage in areas with a lower cost of living. It would also help areas that are in direct competition with neighboring states, like Danville, the Metro East and the Quad Cities,” Senator Weaver said.
Senate Bill 3396 has been introduced in the Senate and awaits assignment to a legislative committee where it will receive a public hearing.