State Senator Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles) believes Illinois businesses need time to recover from financial losses tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, the Kane and McHenry County Republican is championing legislation that would push back the ramp for implementation of the minimum wage increase by one full year.
“The initial shut-down and subsequent capacity limits caused many of our business owners to shut their doors for good, and those who remain are hanging on by a thread,” said Sen. DeWitte. “Despite sustaining record losses in 2020, our job creators were greeted in 2021 with a mandated $1 per hour hike to the wage they had to pay their lower-income workers. We need to be helping our business owners, not saddling them with increased costs at a time when they can least afford it.”
According to Todd Maisch, President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, providing businesses with time to recover from the devastation they have endured for the last 12 months would go far in helping the state’s economy rebound. “At a time when Illinois business owners are struggling to stay afloat and maintain jobs for their existing employees, this is the worst-possible timeframe to force an increase in the minimum wage on them,” said Maisch. “This is a welcome piece of legislation, especially in light of the recent study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which found that approximately 1/3 of our businesses will never reopen.”
In addition to the impact on business owners, the minimum wage increase delivers an estimated $180 million to $200 million hit annually to the state budget for lower wage-earners employed by the State of Illinois, and additional financial burdens for local units of government, like municipalities and park districts.
“We have seen Covid-19 relief efforts that prevent evictions and that halt the payment of student loans, yet our job creators continue to carry the brunt of the pandemic’s financial burden,” DeWitte said. “My Senate Bill 2268 simply provides that the increase in the minimum wage scheduled for January 1, 2022 is delayed until the following January. Rather than hitting $15 per hour in 2025, Illinois would reach that benchmark in 2026. Business owners who provide jobs in our communities need this break.”