One local Stateline business is threatening to leave Illinois if the increase becomes law. Meanwhile a minimum-wage worker tells me she has to take out a bank loan just to make ends meet. Rachel Bittenbender makes minimum wage at the subway sandwich shop where she works in Dixon, “I work about 38 hours a week which feels like so much. But then when it comes time to like start paying the bills and get everything caught up, it's like, where did it all go? I feel like I should be doing better than this… I had to move back in with my mother because i just couldn't afford a place on my own."
But like with any other polarizing issue, there's another side. John Smithline, owner of Guerilla Graffix in Rockford, has over 100 employees on his payroll and says only about 10 percent of them make minimum wage. So an increase really shouldn't affect the company, right? He says, “You have people that have been here for a period of time that make ten dollars an hour...and suddenly you're gonna bring someone in off the street that absolutely nothing has absolutely no skills of any kind or anything and pay them more than those people are getting."
And paying everyone more may help those that are already employed. But Smithline says it won't create jobs, “Manufacturers such as myself will either go much more sophisticated equipment and eliminate jobs...or we will go out of state or off shore just like everyone else has."
But he really doesn't want to resort to that, “We would like to stay here. Our homes are here, our kids are established in the school systems."
However, Bittenbender thinks local businesses will adjust to a potential increase and that everyone will profit, “We can create more jobs for the other businesses because then more people will like...be able to purchase more things, be able to shop more."