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Chicago’s proposed new minimum wage could put people with disabilities out of work

The mayor’s proposal would require a $14 minimum wage but does not provide resources for organizations to fund the increase. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed higher minimum wage could make reduce work opportunities for people with disabilities, writes Josh Evans of IARF.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed higher minimum wage could make reduce work opportunities for people with disabilities, writes Josh Evans of IARF.

Later this month, the Chicago City Council will consider Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s fiscal year 2020 budget, which includes a two-year ramp to a citywide $15 an hour minimum wage.

While not-for-profit social service providers across the city applaud the mayor’s leadership in advancing a living wage for workers, this proposal will severely disadvantage these same organizations in retaining and recruiting frontline staff, and may leave some adults with severe/profound intellectual/developmental disabilities without the opportunity to work.

While many of these organizations serve and support thousands of persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities and serious mental illnesses, they receive nearly all of their funding from the state budget. The mayor’s budget proposal will require a $14 minimum wage beginning next July but does not provide resources for these organizations to fund the wage increase.

Unless something is done, in many instances service providers will be reimbursed a full $1 less than the city minimum wage. This inequity is unsustainable. It will lead to fewer services, growing waiting lists and the loss of quality staff.

We acknowledge Mayor Lightfoot’s leadership in pushing progressive policies, but we must make sure these policies are met equally with adequate resources to ensure the social safety net is not inadvertently harmed and that persons with significant intellectual developmental disabilities are not left behind.

Josh Evans
President & CEO
Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities
(IARF is Illinois’ largest association of community-based providers serving children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and serious mental illnesses.)

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