As state lawmakers look at increasing the state’s minimum wage, business groups fear other legislation could make it more difficult for companies to compete in Illinois.
State Rep. Marty Moylan, D-Des Plaines, said Illinois’ business climate is fine and pointed to Chicago.
“We have the second most cranes in the whole country except Seattle,” Moylan said. “People are coming here. Some states grow slower. Some states grow faster. Look at downtown Chicago.”
“‘Dave, if this happens, we are out of here,’ ” Severin said he’s told by business owners. “They’re going to go to another state or they’re going to close their doors. Companies are very, very concerned.”
In addition to a proposal that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over a number of years, lawmakers have introduced bills that would require paid maternity leave, panic buttons for hotel employees and new regulations regarding what questions employers can ask prospective employees about their pay at previous jobs.
State Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, ran a restaurant for years. He said such regulations add up quickly for businesses. While he said he wants employees to be treated fairly, he said lawmakers need more business acumen.
“We also have to understand that the businesses that are there, they have to make a profit, they have to have a reason to expand, and that’s not going to be with more regulations and more taxes,” Murphy said.
Illinois Retail Merchants Association President and CEO Rob Karr said businesses hit with higher costs can’t simply increase prices for consumers.
“Two-thirds of our population is within a 40-minute drive of a border, so it’s real easy for somebody to travel somewhere,” Karr said. “We already have very high gas taxes, very high liquor and tobacco taxes and once you create a reason for someone to go somewhere to purchase they’re going to make other purchases.”