Illinois Towns Face Tale of Two Minimum Wages

Several towns in Cook County, Illinois are balking at a minimum wage hike that will require local businesses to nearly double baseline salaries and provide paid sick leave for workers, FOX Business Network’s Jeff Flock reported Thursday.

The measure, approved last October by the Cook County Board and set to take effect in July, will gradually raise minimum wage from $8.25 at present to $13 per hour by 2020. Opponents argue that a mandated wage hike will make it more difficult for Cook County businesses to operate and deter others from opening stores in the affected area.

The minimum wage hike is particularly divisive in Barrington, Illinois. The Cook County line runs through the center of town – businesses on one side of the line will pay the old rate, while businesses on the other side adhere to the new regulations. Rather than enforce two sets of rules on the same community, Barrington leaders say they will opt out of the law entirely.

“We can’t have two sets of rules for the business community,” Barrington Village President Karen Barch told Flock.

Barrington isn’t the only town considering an opt-out. The nearby communities of Palatine and Elgin are also weighing their options, according to Flock.

While local towns are within their rights to reject the wage hike, such an action could have consequences. County officials could cut funding in key areas, such as local infrastructure, for communities that choose not to adhere to the measure.

Several cities and states across the country have had similar debates on minimum wage in recent months. Proponents say wage hikes are necessary to support workers and combat the rising cost of living.

In November, voters in Arizona, Maine and Colorado approved an increase to a $12 minimum wage by 2020. Washington state passed an increase to $13.50 over the same timeframe.

Andy Puzder, the CKE Restaurants CEO and President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, opposes federal mandates on minimum wage and job benefits.

“States have every right to decide what the minimum wage should be,” Puzder said during an appearance on “Mornings With Maria” in November.