Minimum wage increase could cost SIU $6.9 million - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Minimum wage increase could cost SIU $6.9 million

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A higher minimum wage in Illinois is one step closer to reality. State senators passed a bill Thursday that would eventually boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Southern Illinois lawmakers in our region fear a higher minimum wage will lead to job cuts and businesses leaving the state. They're also worried about its impact on SIU.

SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith says the increase will cost the university $6.9 million, "That number, of course, would be spread out over a number of years, but there is a significant financial impact."

Most of the impact comes from increasing wages for many of the 2,300 student workers on campus, plus other employees who aren't making that much.

She warns it could lead to job cuts, an issue State Sen. Paul Schimpf, (R) Waterloo, said is common throughout the region.

"I have a lot of people in small towns in my district that are worried that jobs are going to go to Missouri," Schimpf said.

Schimpf and other Republicans, including State Sen. Dale Fowler, (R) Harrisburg, voted against the bill. Schimpf wants to see a different approach, like a different minimum wage for Chicago and the rest of the state because the cost of living is much different.  

Supporters, including Governor JB Pritzker, say that isn't fair to workers outside the city.

"Workers in East St. Louis and Peoria, doing the same job, deserve to be paid the same wage as workers in Chicago," Pritzker said at a press conference where he said he plans to sign the bill if and when the 

Goldsmith said SIU will do the best it can if the increase goes through, "I think it's like any other increase in costs: we would have to do some internal analysis and look at how we might accommodate the increase. That's not saying that we are opposed to the increase, it's simply saying that we have to find a way to manage our costs."

Thursday's vote sends the bill to the House and lawmakers there aren't due back at the capitol until Wednesday of next week.

The bill's sponsor in the House says he doesn't expect much pushback.

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