Recently-filed legislation to regionalize the minimum wage increase would provide some relief to Illinois’ job creators.
In other news, questions are being raised by the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association about a recent policy change within the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Senate Republicans continue their calls for a balanced budget during the week, to ensure that K-12 education funding is not held hostage by a costly income tax increase proposal. Meanwhile, lawmakers are being recognized for their pro-manufacturing voting records.
New legislation filed to regionalize minimum wage
Local governments concerned about the impact a $15 minimum wage will have on local economies should be allowed to decide what is best for their communities.
Senate Bill 3396 would provide for minimum wages based upon a percentage of the otherwise required minimum wage, depending upon the region of the State. The legislation establishes six regions for purposes of determining the minimum wage.
Under the legislation, specified units of local government would be allowed to opt-out of the state-mandated minimum wage rates and opt-into a regionally adjusted minimum wage, which will be statutorily-authorized and statutorily-approved. It provides a sliding scale type of rate – so areas with historically-low unemployment or higher costs of living must keep rates closer to the state-mandated hourly rate.
The first wave of minimum wage increases took effect on January 1, increasing the wage from $8.25 an hour to $9.25 an hour.
DOC policy change comes under scrutiny
Members of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association are sounding the alarm about a recent policy change that releases non-citizen felons who have served their sentences back into Illinois communities without federal immigration authorities being notified.
Previously, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) was required to coordinate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to transfer felons with this designation to Pontiac where they would begin the deportation process instead of releasing them into our communities.
The issues raised by our dedicated law enforcement officials should concern all Illinois residents. They are on the front lines, each and every day protecting our families. Ensuring that our communities are safe is their number one priority, and we must hear the concerns of our law enforcement community and do what we can to support them. This issue is simply about safety, nothing else.
In light of the Sheriffs’ Association’s concerns and noting the potential dangers to public safety, we would like IDOC to answer the following questions:
- Why was this policy changed?
- Whose decision was it to change this policy?
- Why weren’t lawmakers informed?
In a Feb. 25 press release, the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association notes that in 2019, 223 individuals were transferred to the Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee after serving time at an IDOC facility for their felony convictions. This occurred via a notification from IDOC at the request of ICE. Starting in January 2020, IDOC stopped notifying federal authorities and instead allowed these individuals to be released immediately from the correctional facility into Illinois communities where they had been serving their sentence.
We have also asked the Senate President and the Chairman of the Senate Criminal Law Committee to call a special hearing on this matter.
The Illinois Sheriffs’ Association is asking Governor J.B. Pritzker to reconsider the change in policy and enable the Illinois Department of Corrections to once again coordinate with its partner in law enforcement and criminal justice.
Education funding held hostage
During the week, we raised concerns about a component of Governor Pritzker’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget that puts K-12 funding at risk unless the Governor’s tax hike is approved.
Since the new school-funding formula was enacted in 2018, Illinois has increased school funding by at least $350 million every year – as required by state law. However, if Governor Pritzker’s costly tax increase is not approved by voters this fall, the formula will be underfunded by $150 million.
Lawmakers should be working toward a balanced budget that funds the state’s priorities, such as K-12 funding, without this priority being tied to a costly tax increase.
Lawmakers’ support for manufacturing gets high marks
Several lawmakers have been recognized for their support of Illinois job creators in the 2019 Legislative Scorecard released by the Technology and Manufacturing Association (TMA).
The annual scorecard recognizes how lawmakers in the General Assembly voted on bills important to the state’s manufacturers. I earned a score of 80 percent, supporting the TMA’s position on 8 of 10 bills they selected. In fact, my score would have been 100 percent except for the fact that I had to vote “present” on one of the bills because of a potential conflict of interest, and I was off the floor when the votes were cast on one other issue.
Manufacturing is one of Illinois’ leading industries and plays a critical role in the success of our state’s economy, employing ten percent of the workforce. As lawmakers, we should be working harder to advocate on behalf of Illinois’ jobs creators, striving to not only retain current manufacturers but to also do more to attract new businesses to the state.