Minimum Wage Hike

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

Local business owners are speaking out against a proposal unveiled by Gov. Rod Blagojevich during his state of the state address.

The governor wants to raise the state's minimum wage to $6.50. That would be $1.35 increase over the current federal wage of $5.15.

It's a proposal some say will stimulate Illinois's economy, but the local business community isn't exactly embracing the idea.

Few workers would turn down a pay raise, but the owners of Rockford's Capri Restaurant say the minimum wage hike targets the wrong workers.

"I know a lot of kids making minimum wage. I know a lot of people working part time and that kind of thing. I'm not sure if that is something that will help," said Janette Grisanzio, Capri Owner.

During his State of the State address, the governor says the increase will give working parents a decent wage, but some say it could actually hurt small businesses and the state's economy.

"It's going to offset the whole scale for everyone else and people will be forced to raise everyone's wages. Then our payroll taxes go up and our unemployment taxes go up and that's going to hurt people who are struggling in business," Grisanzio said.

One local legislator says he understands business owners concerns, but Representative Chuck Jefferson says too many families are struggling without a living wage.

"I think it behooves Illinois to take the leadership in that area, to say we're going to take care of our workers and we are going to give them jobs that pay a little bit more than poverty," said Jefferson.

This proposal has stalled in the Illinois General Assembly several times before. What are the chances of this passing?

Political insiders say the chances are very good with a democratic controlled legislature and the governor's support. In fact Thursday the bill passed out of the Senate Labor Committee and heads to the full Senate for approval.


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