To the editor: Our leaders in Springfield are debating a change in the law that will likely have devastating consequences for all of downstate Illinois for years to come -- the possible enactment of a statewide $15 minimum wage.
While responsible businesses want to increase the earning opportunities for their employees, any changes to the minimum wage need to recognize the vast cost of living differences across the state, the economic reality that Illinois competes with many other states for jobs, and the wide ranging effect of such a dramatic change.
The cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago is roughly three times the cost of one in Carbondale. Chicago public parking costs upward of $6.50 per hour, while it's free in many southern Illinois communities.
Southern Illinois employers need not look far for more favorable business climates. Missouri, Indiana and Kentucky continue to outpace Illinois' job growth. This change will impact the local bakery, gift shop, school districts and municipal governments.
Employers must pass on dramatically higher costs, resulting in higher prices to consumers or fewer choices when businesses move or cease to operate.
Illinois lost 45,000 residents last year. This sweeping change would do nothing to reverse this trend. Our governor and our legislators must consider a reasonable and fair approach, such as a regional system with different rates for Chicago vs. downstate and a multiyear phase in which allows employers to adjust without making major and permanent changes to their businesses and workforces.
Don Welge, president
Gilster-Mary Lee Corp.