There’s currently a bill in the Illinois House that proposes increased hourly wage raises for home health care workers for over the next three-to-four years.
Specifically, the bill would provide a boost to hourly wages in Illinois’ community care program, going from their current $11 an hour to nearly $25 per hour. If the House votes in favor of the bill, home health care workers in the state would see a dollar increase in their hourly wage each year until 2021, with a maximum of $25 per hour.
A number of State Representatives are sharing their thoughts on the matter, with those in favor of the bill saying that the wage increases are necessary to continue properly supporting the people who care for Illinois’ most elderly citizens, and opponents pointing to the $800 million dollar price tag as a something that state simply can’t afford.
State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer of Jacksonville says that when it comes to home health care workers, he understands that the job they do is very important and not always easy. However, he says another $800 million dollars on top of what the state has already built up in debt would just be too much.
“It’s a tough job, and I think that it would be great if we could afford to give a raise, but we just can’t afford it. We’ve still got $8 billion in unpaid bills, and it’s just absolutely insane to think that we could afford something like that at this point, we have to be realistic about what we can do. I don’t think anybody is okay with you saying, ‘we want you to provide this service, but we’re not going to be able to pay you for eight months,’ and I don’t think individuals would be okay with us doing that either. The reality is that, if we do this, we’re just going to be extending late payments probably nine or ten months, and I don’t think it’s fair for anybody to be put in that situation,” says Davidsmeyer.
Davidsmeyer, who represents Illinois’ 100th House district, explains that, a lot of times in these situations, there’s somewhat of a ripple down effect when it comes to giving out raises.
“There’s always kind of a domino effect when things like this pass. If one group gets some kind of raise, then other groups will start looking for it as well. At the end of the day, we just need to be realistic with what we’ve got,” Davidsmeyer says.
Other Republicans in the State House have voiced their concerns regarding the $800 million dollar price tag. State Representative Peter Breen, a Republican from Illinois’ 25th District, which covers parts of DuPage, Cook, Kendall and other counties, says this is a price tag that the state can’t afford in its current fiscal situation.