Daily Egyptian

Rauner vetoes plan for minimum wage increase

By Doug Finke | The State Journal-Register

Gov. Bruce Rauner Friday vetoed a bill that would have raised the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.

Senate Bill 81 provided for gradual increases over the next five years to raise the minimum wage from the current $8.25 an hour to $15 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

The increase was vehemently opposed by business groups that contended it would result in fewer jobs as businesses cut costs to pay the higher wage.

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In his veto message, Rauner said that research shows that for every 10 percent increase in hourly wages for low-income workers there is a 30 percent cut in employers providing those jobs. Based on that, he said, the bill would cost low-wage earners in Illinois about $1,500 a year.

“This legislation would cost significant sums of money for the very people it purports to help,” Rauner wrote in the veto message.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association said in a statement that Illinois already has the highest minimum wage in the Midwest.

“If this measure had become law it would have put Illinois retailers at a competitive disadvantage compared to neighboring states,” the association said in a statement.

Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said the veto is “another failure” in Rauner’s leadership.

“Our economy is off balance, with too much wealth in too few hands,” he said. “The state minimum wage has not been increased since 2010 and it is there to provide for economic stability for working families. Rauner chose winners and losers with his decision today, he once again chose corporate CEO’s over the workplace.”

SEIU Healthcare Illinois estimated 2.3 million Illinois workers would have benefited from the increase. Rather than costing jobs, the union said the wage increase would have provided a boost to the economy.

Lawmakers could try to override the veto, but the bill did not pass with a veto-proof majority in either chamber.

Rauner on Friday also:

1. Used his amendatory veto powers to make changes to a bill pushed by Treasurer Michael Frerichs to life insurance policies are paid to families of deceased policy holders.

Rauner said he supports the concept of the bill but said it unfairly forces insurance companies to search records for policies that have lapsed or terminated. He also said the bill requires insurers to search records further back than current law requires.

2. Signed a plan making it easier for transgender people to change the gender listed on their birth certificates.

The new law allows transgender individuals to change their gender designation with authorization from a medical professional confirming they have undergone medically appropriate treatment. Current law requires proof of a surgical operation.

Proponents say it’ll treat transgender people with dignity by implementing the same standards used for driver’s licenses, passports and in several other states. Advocates have also argued the updated standards help protect transgender people who don’t want or cannot afford surgery from discrimination.

Some Republicans argued the current law permitting a change following surgery goes far enough.

3. Vetoed a bill sought by Attorney General Lisa Madigan that would establish rights for student loan borrowers. Rauner said the bill encroaches on federal authority and makes the student loan process more confusing.

4. Vetoed a bill prohibiting employers from seeking previous salary or compensation information from applicants. He said Massachusetts has a better version of the law and urged Illinois lawmakers to adopt it.

5. Signed a bill allowing the secretary of state’s office to sell advertising space on license renewal notices. Income from the ads would offset the cost of mailing the notices.

6. Signed separate bills designating shelter dogs and cats as the official state pet, the milkweed as the official state wildflower and cycling as the official state exercise.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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(c)2017 The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.

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