Area Lawmakers Push Back Against Dignity In Pay Act Legislation

By Benjamin Cox on March 15, 2024 at 9:35am

Two area Illinois GOP House lawmakers are in opposition to a bill which would require all workers in the state be paid the state’s minimum wage.

The Illinois Dignity in Pay Act would eliminate the sub-minimum wage in the state. Right now, Illinois’s minimum wage is $14, but starting in 2025, it bumps to $15 an hour. The bill was re-introduced in May after failing to pass in a previous session, and currently has more than three dozen sponsors, mostly Democrats from the northern portion of the state.

95th District Republican Mike Coffey of Springfield says while the legislation is well meaning, families of developmentally disabled workers at non-profit, community-based programs are opposed to it because it could put them out of a job. Coffey says in states where similar legislation has passed, 70-80% of the developmentally disabled workforce never get to work again.

Coffey said in a press conference on March 6th that he’s particularly worried for those in his own district and the adverse consequences a bill like this would create: “Currently, individuals with disabilities enjoy job security, but more importantly, take pride in their ability to work and be active, contributing members of society. The 14(c) [wage exemption] certificate ensures fair wages and quality services for these individuals. HB793 does not help these workers – it puts their jobs at risk and jeopardizes their financial stability. Let’s not take away the dignity of work. We must oppose HB793 and listen to the people that know the effects of this legislation, like Dr. Doug McDonald, CEO of Sparc, right here in the 95th District. It is because of his insight and others in the industry, I must oppose HB793.”

100th District Republican C.D. Davidsmeyer of Murrayville says that locations in his current and former district have spoken to him about worries with the bill, and the possibilities of needing to cut 90-95% of their workforce if the act passes: “I think at the end of the day, we are all looking for pride and purpose, right? We have pride in our jobs. We have purpose in our jobs. And that comes in a paycheck. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what the number on that paycheck is; it’s the pride of having a job and having the ability to show up and be with your friends that you work with no matter what your production level is. I think we want the opportunity for a normal life for each and every one of us – and I think that’s the purpose behind this [opposition]. We want to make sure that if we are realistic when you talk about providing opportunities for those who may need our help – we need to ensure that there is opportunity for each and every one of us no matter at what level that may be.”

HB793 currently remains under consideration in the House Rules Committee.