On October 5, certain commissioners introduced a Minimum Wage Increase Ordinance for all Cook County businesses with a vote scheduled for October 25. This quick action leaves local businesses with only a few days to analyze the financial impact and assess their ability to cover this immense and unexpected new cost.
Businesses were not informed of this huge cost increase nor did they have an opportunity to prepare or budget for it. With their yearly budgets already set, they will now be forced to increase their staff salaries by 27% literally overnight and 58% over the next 20 months. This massive wage increase will undoubtedly create a substantial financial disadvantage for Cook County businesses and will hurt the extensive efforts by suburban municipalities to attract new businesses, create new economic development opportunities and grow jobs.
Recent actions by the Cook County Board to pile on a massive Minimum Wage Hike, an expensive Paid Sick Leave regulation and a costly Beverage Tax all at once will be devastating to our local economy and will no doubt shutter the doors of many businesses along with the loss of numerous jobs for our hardworking residents. All of this excessive government regulation thrown onto small businesses is a formula for economic disaster.
The Illinois State Supreme Court has concluded that local labor conditions in our state should rest with the Illinois General Assembly who are charged with legislating “carefully crafted and balanced economic policies”; not local home rule units of government. And the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has opined that “Cook County lacks the home rule authority to enact such an ordinance.” That’s why I strongly urge any of my board colleagues who want to legislate fiscal policies over private employers to seek office in the Illinois General Assembly which is the appropriate venue to do so. Not the Cook County Board.
Sean M. Morrison
Cook County Commissioner