Debate Over Minimum Wage Hike

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ILLINOIS (WIFR) – In his 6th State of the Union Address tonight, President Obama is expected to announce plans to raise the minimum wage for some federal workers to more than $10 an hour. It’s a proposal that some say will get more people back to work, but some local business owners think the idea is a job killer.

Frank Savitski, the owner of Panino’s in Rockford, signs the paychecks for 22 workers and has a mix of full time and part time employees. He thinks a hike in the minimum wage would force him to cut jobs, not create them.

“I don’t think we could afford raising our prices and passing it on to customers just because of the competition in this industry right now. It would be almost impossible, so the only way to make ends meet is to cut back on our staff,” Savitski said.

President Obama would like to pay certain federal workers a minimum of $10.10 an hour. Governor Pat Quinn would support a similar move in Illinois. Some Stateline lawmakers disagree on the benefits of that proposal.

“I think it’s a good thing for the economy, I think it’s going to help grow the economy a little bit more. If you have more money to spend, you tend to spend a little bit more. If you don’t have it, you’re just kind of stagnated,” said Rep. Chuck Jefferson (D) – 67th District.

“We need to do more, especially in Illinois to focus on what we are doing to create a business environment to create jobs that pay $20 an hour,” said Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R) – 69th District.

Savitski agrees, the focus shouldn’t be on increasing minimum wage but giving workers the opportunity to move up and earn a living wage.

“You get a job at the minimum wage level, you earn job skills, you get some more education or move up in that particular company or in that industry and you’ll have success,” said Savitski.

Savitski says if he’s going to create more jobs at his restaurant, raising minim wage won’t help.

Supporters of an increase in the minimum wage says no one should have to live in poverty if they are working full time.
The minimum wage in Illinois right now is $8.25. It was last raised in 2010. The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says President Barack Obama will sign an executive order setting the minimum wage for workers under new federal contracts at $10.10 an hour. The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

The White House says those who would benefit from the increase include janitors, construction workers and people in food service.

The president will announce the increase at tonight's State of the Union address.

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