CHICAGO – Friday afternoon, Governor Rauner vetoed SB 81, legislation that would hike starting wages throughout the state to $15 per hour by 2022 - a measure promoted by the pro-union "Fight for $15" activist group.
The governor said in his veto message that he shares the passion of many members of the legislature for improving the well-being of those struggling to make ends meet. However, the governor said, 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 most thorough research to date, published earlier this year by researchers at the University of Washington, found that for every 10 percent increase in the hourly earnings of low-wage workers, there was a 30 percent reduction in employers providing those jobs," Governor Rauner said.
He went on to argue that "research implies that Senate Bill 81 will result in a net reduction of earnings for low-wage Illinoisans in excess of $1,500 per year." Rauner said the legislation would cost significant sums of money for the very people it purports to help.
"Illinois needs to be seeking comprehensive solutions that grow the economy and the number of jobs available where individuals can train, grow and attain better lives for themselves and their families," he said.
Rauner's veto was backed by business groups such as the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Retailers Association and the Illinois Manufacturing Association.
The minimum wage increase was named by some business groups as one of the “dirty dozen” bills considered by Illinois lawmakers during the 2017 legislative session, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce said.
“We applaud Governor Rauner for standing up for Illinois’ business community by vetoing SB 81. At a time when our employers continually see new taxes, fees and mandates at both the local and state level, we cannot afford new laws that would inhibit job growth and business development. In addition, we need to do the harder work of investing in our citizens' workforce development, including vocational training, community college, and the trades," said Michael Reever, activing president & CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
"A politically expedient increase in the starting wage does not provide a road to prosperity over the long term. Our state is in need of sound economic reforms, which will strengthen our communities, and the Governor’s actions today was a major step in protecting our state’s jobs,” Reever said.
With a three-fifths vote in both chambers, the Illinois General Assembly could override the governor's veto.