Thursday, February 7, 2013

Quinn Wants $10+ Minimum Wage


Illinois Governor Pat Quinn made his annual State of the State speech to the General Assembly yesterday, and it contained a mixed message for the business community.

On the one hand, the Governor spoke of the need to fix the single biggest problem facing the citizens of Illinois - the estimated $100 billion dollar unfunded pension obligation.  He also expressed his desire to address the State's backlog of unpaid bills, announced the Illinois Manufacturing Lab to help with innovation and job training, and his desire to act on several social issue.  And, he spoke of the need for more jobs, more new small business start-ups, and the need to keep the government out of the way of small businesses.

And then he proposed an increase in the State's minimum wage to at least $10 per hour.

The immediate negative reaction to that proposal was far and wide, from not only pro-business organizations (Illinois Chamber, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, and the Illinois Restaurant Association) but state legislators on both sides of the aisle.

"The Illinois Chamber takes great exception to the Governor's desire to increase the state's minimum wage law to $10.00 an hour. This is an untimely, ill-advised and outrageous proposal that puts a dagger to the heart of the very employers politicians normally say they want to grow and be successful: small, medium and entrepreneurial businesses," said Doug Whitely, President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber.

Kim Clarke Maisch, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said "Small-business owners don't need politicians telling them how to run their businesses. If the General Assembly is serious about jobs and wages, it'll stay out of the way and let small-business owners try to grow and succeed without intervention. Politicians shouldn't determine people's pay, the marketplace should."

Whitely added, "Most troubling of all, I see it as another indication of our political leaders' failure to recognize how detrimental it is to repeatedly send anti-business messages. Increasing the cost of doing business by forcing Illinois employers to pay the highest minimum wage in the country is counter to the basic economics we need elected officials to appreciate."

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