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Gov vetoes minimum wage hike — says hurts those ‘it seeks to help’

Demonstrators went to the Thompson Center Friday to call on Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign the minimum wage bill. From Facebook.

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday vetoed a minimum wage measure that would have hiked the state’s hourly rate to $15 over five years — arguing an increase “of this magnitude will hurt the very individuals it seeks to help.”

The current minimum wage is $8.25. But under the measure that legislators sent to the governor in May, workers 18 and over would have seen their wages jump in periodic increments until 2022. The bill also included a tax credit to protect small businesses with 50 employees or less.

The governor in his veto message said that helping individuals get out of poverty is a top priority but “mainstream economic theory and mainstream economic evidence strongly suggest that an increase in the minimum wage of this magnitude will hurt the very individuals it seeks to help.”

The governor cited research at the University of Washington that found for every 10 percent increase in hourly earnings for low wage workers there was a 30 percent reduction in employers providing jobs.

The measure was opposed by business groups such as the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, which said it would be a “devastating blow to job creators throughout Illinois.” The Technology and Manufacturing Association also criticized the potential hike, saying it would not encourage employers to expand or locate in Illinois.

The bill’s House sponsor Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, had argued that workers aren’t able to make ends meet while big corporations are reaping the benefits.

In a statement, Guzzardi said he was “deeply disappointed but not in the least surprised” by the veto.

“Once again, Gov. Rauner has shown that he’d rather project the profits of his corporate allies than help lift millions of Illinoisans out of poverty,” Guzzardi said. “We, the people of this state, know whose side the Governor is on. It’s not ours.”

Guzzardi said that he’d push for an override of the veto.

Sen. Kimberly Lightford, the bill’s Senate sponsor, called the veto a doubling down on the governor’s “stance against some of most vulnerable communities.”

After the measure passed the Illinois House on May 30, the governor’s office said he was in support of increasing the minimum wage “as long as other structural reforms” were in place to bring down the regulatory burden on businesses.

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