Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Doug Whitley issued the following statement about Gov. Pat Quinn's State of the State Address:
“The Illinois Chamber is encouraged that Gov. Quinn continues to demand legislative action to resolve the single most pressing public policy issue confronting the citizens and employers who live, work and do business in Illinois. The governor is absolutely right to press the 98th General Assembly to pass legislation to restructure the state’s public employee pension obligations. The continued failure to adequately address the state’s unfunded obligations of an estimated $100 billion is unconscionable.
"The Illinois Chamber applauds Gov. Quinn’s unwavering commitment to the task and supports the objective of getting the state’s fiscal house in order, starting with the public employee pension problem.
“The Illinois Chamber is appreciative, too, that the governor expressed continued interest and more focus on the state’s construction needs.
“The Illinois Chamber takes great exception to the governor’s desire to increase the state’s minimum wage law to $10 an hour. This is an untimely, ill-advised and outrageous proposal that puts a dagger to the heart of the very employers politicians normally say they want to grow and be successful: small, medium and entrepreneurial businesses. In addition, I think legislating a $10 minimum wage will be a barrier to the creation of more seasonal and part time employment for young people and entry level jobs.
“Given the state’s struggle to reverse the high unemployment in much of the state the governor’s desire to dictate the highest minimum wage rate in the country is bewildering.
"This proposal ignores the fact that Illinois government has already dictated the fourth highest minimum wage in the country? Our employment experience since the General Assembly routinely increased the minimum wage from 2007 to 2010 hardly suggests that a minimum increase was a proven catalyst for propelling exceptional job growth.
"Most troubling of all, I see it as another indication of our political leaders’ failure to recognize how detrimental it is to repeatedly send anti-business messages. Increasing the cost of doing business by forcing Illinois employers to pay the highest minimum wage in the country is counter to the basic economics we need elected officials to appreciate.”
“A minimum wage increase has little to no impact on the state budget since I doubt the state has few, if any, minimum wage jobs. Over 95 percent of state workers are represented by unions. The financial burden of meeting the state’s minimum wage mandate will fall on private sector employers, especially small and struggling business for whom payroll costs are fundamental.”