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Yet another ballot question?

Monday, Apr 28, 2014

* I told subscribers about this possibility weeks ago. From the AP

With Illinois Democrats struggling to find enough votes to increase the state’s minimum wage, some lawmakers are quietly proposing a less-contentious plan that would ask voters what they think of the idea before the legislature tries to pass a politically risky bill.

But state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, who is sponsoring the proposal to hike the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10.65 per hour, says putting a nonbinding resolution on the November ballot would only be a “last resort.” Some Democrats in swing suburban and downstate districts have joined Republicans in resisting the effort amid fears that companies would lay off workers or hire fewer new ones. […]

“Unemployment hasn’t come down the way I think it should in Illinois, and I don’t think (higher minimum wage) is going to help move that agenda forward,” [Democratic state Sen. John Sullivan] said. “I’m conflicted on it. It’s a tough issue. But given the current situation, that’s why I wouldn’t support it.”

John Jackson, a political science professor at Southern Illinois University, said although increasing the minimum wage makes sense as a talking point for Democrats on the state and national levels, “I haven’t heard a heard a single (southern Illinois) area legislator salute the idea. […]

After being pulled from consideration during committee three times this spring, the Senate Executive Committee approved a minimum wage increase late last month and is awaiting a floor vote.

As you already know, House Speaker Michael Madigan said last week that he didn’t yet have enough votes rounded up on the issue.

* A recent poll found that 63 percent of Illinoisans favor increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour. So, if the Democrats can’t pass the bill on their own, they could still use a non-binding referendum to drive some base voters to the polls this November. If such a proposal passes, it would be a political “win-win.” The Democrats would get another favorable issue onto the ballot and business would get a reprieve from a minimum wage hike this year.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


31 Comments
  1. - foster brooks - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 9:18 am:

    where’s the bruce rauner robo calls on this issue? He supports raising the minimum wage increase correct?


  2. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 9:21 am:

    I think it’s a good idea, from a political and policy standpoint.

    A CBO report shows that the benefits of a minimum wage increase would be greater than the jobs losses, by raising almost a million workers out of poverty and lifting the wages of millions of workers. This would also potentially reduce reliance on public assistance, which would benefit taxpayers.

    One of the problems of our economy is weaker demand. We need to get more money in the hands of the folks who spend most of it.


  3. - Walker - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 9:23 am:

    This is worse than the old blue ribbon panel dodge.


  4. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 9:32 am:

    foster brooks

    “where’s the bruce rauner robo calls on this issue? He supports raising the minimum wage increase correct?”

    I think he’s for decreasing it, no wait he wants it to stay the same, no, no, no he wants it to increase. That will be quite an interesting robocall.


  5. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 9:35 am:

    “But state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, who is sponsoring the proposal to hike the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10.65 per hour, says putting a nonbinding resolution on the November ballot would only be a “last resort.”

    Do the words nonbinding mean anything ? A last resort that ends nowhere. There are too many of these meaningless nonbinding referendums clogging up the ballots. Just what we need, another one.


  6. - A guy... - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 9:59 am:

    This is a job killer. The size of the bite and the timing make it very difficult to move. It’s not just downstate legislators who are hearing from the small businesses in their districts, it’s all of them. Lower paying internships could suffer the most. For small businesses, the market does provide the incentive. If you’re in a market to pay $15/hour to flip a burger, or sweep a floor, you’ll pay it. I honestly don’t know any small business people who want to pay minimum wage. They know better employees cost a little more. This bill is forcing them to re-strategize how to do business with less people. The experience young people get will suffer. The seniors who want to do something with their time that contributes, will suffer too. The timing is horrendous.


  7. - OneMan - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    I find it interesting the legislature has discovered the ballot initiative when it doesn’t impact them directly…

    As for the issue, I see the arguments on both sides, but when it comes down to it, isn’t this why we have a legislature?


  8. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 10:28 am:

    As we have discussed previously, both the CBO and Department of Labor conclude that a minimum wage increase would not cost existing jobs but would cost future jobs by greatly hindering job growth and hiring.

    The timing for this is not right for a state that is last or near last in job growth projections. In the mean time, Illinois is still leading on this issue by requiring the 4th-highest minimum wage in America.


  9. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 10:38 am:

    @Grandson of a Man:

    If only the voters were rational…

    Welcome to Realism, as opposed to how Political Science is taught in high school and even college.

    No offense to my alma mater.

    Here is the reality: those who benefit from the minimum wage hike will not all be grateful, the gratitude will soon wear off, and few if any who start earning the minimum wage at $10 will appreciate that it used to be…well, $3.35 an hour when I was a teenager.

    On the flip side, everyone who loses their job is extremely emotional about it, with a long memory, and many will blame the minimum wage hike, even when it is completely unrelated.

    Such is the psychology of the masses, so analyzing the politics is not as simple as a rote cost-benefit analysis.


  10. - Langhorne - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 10:42 am:

    total nonsense. legislative self gratification.

    the poll says the public is in favor of increasing it, w 63% in favor. but that may not be the same population that is voting on a down ballot, meaningless, proposition. if voters go against it, even by a small margin, will the dems drop the issue?

    i dont know if the dems are brave or stupid. higher taxes–progressive plan, millionaires, permanent increase. stubborn unemployment. nearly zero job growth. negative trends. so lets help out the little guy making minimum wage, and the hell w the employers perspective.


  11. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    –I honestly don’t know any small business people who want to pay minimum wage. They know better employees cost a little more.–

    So what’s the problem of raising it?

    How do you know that “all legislators” are getting flack for this? Polls show a majority of Americans support it.


  12. - VanillaMan - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    Vote yourself rich has always been popular.


  13. - PublicServant - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    Uhm, 10.65 an hour ain’t rich dude…


  14. - Rob Roy - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    Why stop at $10.00 per hour? That’s not enough to support a family on. It’s a feel good issue that doesn’t do anything but decrease the available job positions. Why not make it $25.00 an hour?


  15. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    === Why not make it $25.00 an hour?===

    You must be a college sophomore.


  16. - PublicServant - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    You’re assuming that these minimum wage jobs barely eek out a profit for these businesses that employ them. First, I doubt that. Second, if the only way a job is available at a profit is by paying that little, then you don’t deserve a profit.


  17. - Out Here In The Middle - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    Total US personal income has climbed sharply since 2009. God forbid that the “job creators” share any of that growth in personal wealth with the people who are in all of those low end service jobs they created.


  18. - PublicServant - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    Don’t insult college sophomores, Rich.


  19. - Pete - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    On a more serious note, does anyone think that they can find enough votes to do a temporary extension of the law into the lame duck session?


  20. - A guy... - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    === PublicServant - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    You’re assuming that these minimum wage jobs barely eek out a profit for these businesses that employ them. First, I doubt that. Second, if the only way a job is available at a profit is by paying that little, then you don’t deserve a profit.====

    This is completely ridiculous. Why don’t you share this gem of a thought with every student coming home for the summer trying to make a buck or to every Senior using these jobs as a way to have a little entertainment budget in their lives. There are plenty of businesses that rely on minimum wage work forces to eke profits. Usually they are places that hire a lot of people i.e. fast food joints, outside landscaping in parks, etc. When minimum wage gets to such a place that it forces technology to replace those folks, there are less unskilled jobs for people who need or “want” unskilled jobs. Don’t kid yourself, there are plenty of folks who want to work a few hours a day at a job that doesn’t have a lot of pressure.


  21. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    A Guy, you continue to just make stuff up. Full-time students and those under 20 who work less than 90 days are not covered by minimum wage.

    Those whose abilities are also limited by old age also are not covered.

    http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/subminimumwage.htm


  22. - Logic not emotion - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 2:00 pm:

    Anyone who truly believes this increase would not be a job killer is out of touch with reality. Let’s look at specifics on an agency I know. They have a Teen REACH afterschool grant. Back in 1999, their grant was approximately, $200,000. Now it is about $119,000. Most of their staff are paid minimum wage. Boost the wage = fewer staff. That same agency has a family case management grant which was about $98,000 back in 2004; but is now around $74,000. RN’s don’t make minimum wage; but it will have an impact on all agencies.


  23. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 2:17 pm:

    Employers must have a special clearance and a certificate from the Department of Labor; must pay 85% of the minimum wage; must be “retail or service stores, agriculture, or colleges and universities”; and only apply to full-time students.

    It would be interesting to see how often those exemptions are actually applied for and used, since I don’t see any details on the DOL website. The only students I recall working for less than minimum wage over summer breaks were my friends working as waiters and waitresses.

    Even the ones at McDonald’s were getting minimum wage or more.


  24. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 2:19 pm:

    Regardless, if and when immigration reform passes the labor supply will swell significantly.

    That’s going to significantly increase the pool of applicants for these jobs.


  25. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 2:23 pm:

    –Regardless, if and when immigration reform passes the labor supply will swell significantly.–

    What in the world are you talking about?


  26. - RNUG - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 2:40 pm:

    If we’re going to put every idea out for a referendum because the General Assemblky can’t do it’s job, let’s just cut out the middle man and completely eliminate the General Assembly.

    OH … that needs to be a constitutional amendment to the voters also!


  27. - zatoichi - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 2:41 pm:

    PublicS,maybe you should go look at many of the small companies in your area. Not just the restaurants. Go to the small warehouses, packaging operations, lawn companies, car washes, grocery stores, many retail ops, hair salons, social service providers and many others. Wages are often slightly above min wage. Those wages go up and their customers start complaining how expensive they are. Many of those small companies are in extremely competitive business where pricing is bid in the pennies. Too high and business goes away.

    Push the argument the other way: Do you buy all your personal needs only at retailers that only sell product made in America and pay employees $15 hr. Or do you go to the big box stores that buy from China with $2 hr labor so they can keep the low prices that customers? How much would your Nike shoes/flat screen TV/I-Pad cost if they were made in the US? Would you still buy them?


  28. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 3:18 pm:

    == What in the world are you talking about? ==

    From the Congressional Budget Office - “In addition, CBO expects that the influx of additional workers would affect other macroeconomic factors that would change outlays for unemployment insurance: During the next several years, the unemployment rate would be slightly higher than it otherwise would be and average wages would be slightly lower.”


  29. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 3:20 pm:

    Could you give a link or some context FKA? Because I still don’t know what you’re talking about.


  30. - Liberty First - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 3:21 pm:

    Perhaps the legislature should focus on the 2/3rd of Illinois corps who don’t pay income tax.


  31. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Apr 28, 14 @ 3:57 pm:

    I may be thinking too far down the line or too broadly here, word. My thoughts include

    - CBO and DOL reports show that increasing the minimum wage does not lead to layoffs but does hinder future job growth.

    - IL has a high unemployment rate and low projected job growth.

    - CBO reports that immigration reform will increase the labor pool and increase unemployment rates for a few years.

    - Greater labor supply generates greater competition for jobs as well as downward pressure on wages.

    Because of these things, I wonder about what happens to many of our low-wage workers by adding the pressures of both a higher minimum wage which reduces job growth and a larger labor pool which reduces the odds of finding a job.

    More than anything, I worry our low-wage earners may be in a real pickle unless we find a way to boost job creation fast enough to keep up with these dual added pressures.


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