Some Central Illinois businesses are worried a minimum wage increase will hurt local economy

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 “The problem with that is, it takes away the learning curve.  The learning curve of the young people who are just trying to make a few bucks to get through college, or high school, or take bread home for their parents,” said Patrick T. Sullivan.

Sullivan employs people in all stages of life at Kelleher’s Pub in Peoria.  He says if the minimum wage were raised to $15, it wouldn’t be in his budget to keep them on board.

“I can’t afford them to do the stuff I need to get done, to teach them how to work.”

A newer local business, Pre-Game Pub and Grill moved into Peoria nearly two months ago.  Its owners say that this wage increase could really  hurt their new business down the road.

“As everything goes up, our prices are probably going to have to go up.  It hurts everyone in the long run.”

Michelle Anderson says this increase might make sense in a city like Chicago, but not in the smaller towns and cities in Central Illinois.

“We don’t have the cost of living that Chicago has, so boundaries need to be set, I think as far as trickling down to the smaller communities that have a hard time keeping businesses in town anyway.  It seems like the small town is dying off, and we need to preserve that,” said Anderson.

During a time where Peoria is promoting the idea of “shopping local,” Sullivan and Anderson say this increase could really hurt locally-owned businesses and decrease the amount of customers they bring in.

“They’re gonna be paying a lot more.  In New York, there’s studies that some of the restaurant magazines say that it’s putting the mom and pop shops out of business.  They can’t afford that kind of pay raise,” said Sullivan.

Those restaurants owners say there’s a trickle-down effect.  If the minimum wage increases, so will their prices, which will affect how often customers will be eating out and how many hours employees will be able to work.

There are those that support this increase.  Some lawmakers are moving quickly to make this change to the minimum wage, hoping to raise it to $15.00 an hour by 2025.

Speaker Mike Madigan says he supports it, increasing the chances of it touching the governor’s desk.

But Wednesday, lawmakers are sorting out all the pros and cons.  The state expects it will collect an extra $30 million in income tax from the higher wages, and because people have more money to spend, the state could see another $4 million a year in sales tax revenue.

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