Caulkins says increase in minimum wage will not help state's economy
Newly minted state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) said he fears what could become of Illinois’s economy if empowered Democrats in Springfield get what he says is the one thing they want most for it right now.
“I don’t think a minimum wage is a good idea, period, especially this current push for $15 an hour,” Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. “The bottom line is the market should determine itself, and trying to manipulate things in that way will only have devastating effects for a lot of people.”
With Gov. J.B. Pritzker now letting it be known he plans to push to make good on his campaign promise of a $15 per hour statewide minimum wage before his Feb. 20 budget address, Caulkins said, he sees more financial hardship for the cash-strapped state.
“It’s a vicious circle because while you may make a little more, everything around you will cost more,” he said. “I try to get people to see, if you want to make more than minimum wage you have to do the things to make yourself more valuable. So many jobs that pay more than that are still unfilled. That says to me that the employee is the one holding all the cards.”
According to Illinois Policy Institute, the proposed wage increase would make Illinois the only state in the country with a statewide mandated minimum wage of more than $12 an hour, though the timeline for how the plan would be phased in remains up in the air.
Caulkins, who won his seat in the 101st District in November with nearly 70 percent of the vote, thinks legislators need to be careful about what they wish for.
“Things like this have been tried in other places, and the results have been that it has not stimulated the economy the way people thought,” he said. “I think the emphasis really ought to be on getting more people back into the job market. Paying someone a $15 minimum wage does not improve unemployment and really only makes matters worse because there will be even fewer jobs.”
The 101st House District spans parts of Champaign, DeWitt, Macon, McLean and Piatt counties.