Local lawmakers react to potential raise in minimum wage

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) ---- With the proposal reaching the Illinois House and Senate floors within the next few days, the conversation continues about raising the state's minimum wage from the current $8.25 to $15 within 5 years.

"The very people that we're trying to help are the ones that end up getting hurt," said Sen. Dave Syverson (R-35th District).

With legislators discussing the first raising of the minimum wage in close to a decade, the conversation turns to its purpose.

"Minimum wages are meant to be starting wages for individuals that are either in school or just getting out and they're training for positions. The goal is to work yourself into positions where you can be earning more than minimum wage and jobs that you have skills and education to be able to do," said Syverson.

The governor's current plan involves a steady hike starting with a one dollar raise at the beginning of next year. One of the organizations hardest hit are those who have part-time or seasonal employees, like the Rockford Park District.

"We have around 1000 part time employees, and I'd say about 75% of them are true seasonal/summer/high school, college kids. so when you apply the minimum wage increase in the schedule to our current team members, you're looking at a close to $2 million increase to the Park District over the next 6 years, which is significant to us," said Rockford Park District Executive Director Jay Sandine.

Regardless of the outcome, both sides of the aisle agree that this decision needs to be made with their constituents best interests at heart.

"This is something that small business owners could suffer from, if not done properly, that park districts could potentially suffer from if it's not done properly, that employees could potentially suffer from if it's not done properly," said Rep. Maurice West (D-67th District).

After its initial passing in the Executive Committee, the legislation now goes to a full Senate vote.