Minimum Wage Debate Moves To Universities

Feb 20, 2014

  The president of Southern Illinois University came out against raising the state's minimum wage on Thursday. President Glenn Poshard says it'd be too big a hit on the school's bottom line.

While the battle for a higher minimum wage brews in Springfield, Poshard warns of casualties in Carbondale and Edwardsville. Programs at those two campuses, he says, would be hurt in the long run.

"Maintaining the current level of student employment would likely require spending decreases in other areas," he said.

Poshard says a mandatory pay increase would cost the university millions of dollars per year — money SIU doesn't have, he says, as a result of Illinois' funding cuts in recent years.

Representative Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago), who chairs the General Assembly's higher education committee, says Poshard's plea comes as a surprise, but he acknowledges the potential effect down the road for tuition dollars.

"Even if we were to give Southern Illinois University, or any university, flat funding, raising the minimum wage would inherently increase costs of doing business," Dunkin said.