Minimum wage debate continues in Illinois - New York News

Minimum wage debate continues in Illinois

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Illinois will ask voters this fall whether the state's minimum wage should be raised to $10 an hour. It's now $8.25.

Assembling and repairing bicycles is the first paying job 17-year-old Eric Andres has ever had. When FOX 32 News visited him Monday, he could barely contain his enthusiasm for South Elgin's Village Pedaler shop and Jeff Crittenden, the man who hired him.

“It's a great job. Jeff's the best boss I think I'll ever have,” said Andres.

However, the boss and store owner said he's worried he may have to lay off the teenager if Illinois raises the state's minimum wage from the current $8.25 an hour to $10. He estimates the annual raises would cost his small business about $36,000.

“I can't absorb $36,000 a year in payroll costs with no increase in work or output or anything like that,” said Crittenden.

Supporters of increasing the minimum wage argue it would deliver a pay raise to about 875,000 Illinoisans. Governor Pat Quinn predicts it would be a multi-million dollar boost for the state's economy.

The pro-business Economic Policies Institute, though, cites research indicating bosses like Crittenden would be forced to eliminate jobs. Estimates range from 9,200 to nearly 28,000.

A $10 minimum wage would deliver a pay raise to Village Pedaler's Kalie Tazbier, which is money she could certainly use when she enters Elgin Community College this fall. She's been thinking about the issue.

“I think not only jobs will be eliminated, but also prices will be raised just everywhere,” said Tazbier.

Crittenden, though, said the intensely competitive retail bicycle business won't let him raise prices much, if at all. He doesn't think Illinois politicians understand his plight.

“I don't think that they really get a feel for, you know, sitting there paying the garbage service, paying the water bill, paying the lights, paying the real estate taxes, paying pay roll taxes and all that kind of stuff,” added Crittenden.

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner last year declared his opposition to raising Illinois' minimum wage. He later said that he could support raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25, noting that's what it is in neighboring states such as Wisconsin and Indiana.

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