Barickman thinks minimum wage talks moving too fast; suggests increase based on region

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State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) does not agree with how quickly lawmakers are pushing to pass a minimum wage increase.

This week, Illinois House lawmakers will likely vote on a bill that would gradually raise the state minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $15 per hour by 2025. The Senate passed the measure along party lines last week.

Governor J.B. Pritzker campaigned on a wage increase and is encouraging the measure to move forward within his first month on the job. Democrats argue the change would encourage people to spend more and bring more money into the state economy.

Meanwhile, several Republicans, including Barickman disagree. He worries that boosting the minimum wage to $15 per hour would hurt businesses, especially in downstate and central Illinois.

“You can’t have a ‘one size fits all’ minimum wage increase. To do so puts our employers at risk,” said Barickman. 

The Bloomington lawmaker is open to a wage increase, but rather it be based on region. For instance, the Chicago area wage would likely look different than wages in the Peoria area, based on cost of living and other factors.

Barickman also fears the wage increase would hurt non-profits and colleges, like Illinois State University — which he represents.

Supporters of the wage increase want the bill to pass before Pritzker delivers his first budget proposal on February 20. Barickman does not agree with haste and believes the “only explanation for this is politics.”

“The natural legislative process usually results in significant policy change, like this, voted on in May,” said Barickman. “Because of [Pritzker’s] desire to get this done before a political speech, [he] says ‘let’s get this done now’ — which I think is absolutely the wrong approach.”

Barickman, who voted against the measure in the Illinois Senate last week, thinks lawmakers should take more time for deliberation. Either way, he says, the increase would not go into affect until January 1, 2020.

Watch the full interview with Barickman, including his thoughts on an fair maps amendment.

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