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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Northern Illinois Lawmakers Skeptical Of $15-Per-Hour Minimum Wage

Illinois Senators recently approved a plan that would eventually raise the state minimum wage to $15-per-hour.

Illinois House Republicans fear the increase could have a negative impact on the business climate in the state.

Republican State Rep. Jeff Keicher says he’s been hearing from northern Illinois business owners. Some have told him they might have to cut back hiring, others suggested they might have to lay off workers if the bill gets passed in that chamber.

He also worries about its impact in his neck of the woods.

“We have adjacent areas near the Wisconsin border where I’m fearful those jobs will be transplanted to Beloit and Janesville, out of an already-depressed Rockford economy,” said Keicher.

The bill would raise the state minimum wage over six years. It would be a flat increase statewide. That’s another reason why Keicher thinks the state should take more time discussing the proposal.

“$15-per-hour means one thing in Chicago and it means something entirely different in Malta or even down at the southern part of the state in Mount Vernon.” he said.

Meanwhile, Senate Republican Dave Syverson released a statement saying the bill is “wishful thinking” that will have unintended consequences for the state, businesses and students.

Keicher is also concerned about how much bill is going to cost the state. He says that the bill is projected toincrease the state’s budget to over $1 billion by 2025.

Despite that, Gov. Pritzker says he’ll bepresenting a balanced budget that accounts for the wage increase later this month.