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Government State

In Sycamore, Pritchard talks unfinished business

SYCAMORE – The leaky roof on the governor's mansion is a prime example of the problems with the state of Illinois' spending, State Rep. Bob Pritchard told a dozen senior citizens Wednesday.

Pritchard, a Hinckley Republican representing the 70th District, which includes much of DeKalb County, visited the Grand Victorian to talk about what was done – and not done – during the legislative session that ended last week with legislators passing a $35.7 million budget without Republican support.

“It comes back to the priorities of how we spend our money,” Pritchard said, referencing the Springfield mansion where workers apparently had to remove furniture because the roof was leaking.

Beyond the problems with the mansion, Pritchard spent most of his time talking about issues that will need to be resolved after the November elections, such as the extension of the 2011 tax increase scheduled to end in January.

Pritchard also addressed some of the ballot measures voters will face in November, including a non-binding referendum asking if they approve of increasing the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 an hour for workers age 18 and older. The non-binding referendum is a way to draw voters to the polls, Pritchard said.

He cautioned that representatives from colleges and park districts, entities known to offer minimum-wage jobs during the summer, have voiced concerns that raising the minimum wage would cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“That's one of the trade-offs we have to think about when we say, 'Sure, it makes sense,' ” Pritchard said.

Pritchard said instead of boosting the minimum wage, he would like to double the earned income tax credit from 10 percent to 20 percent of the federal earned income tax credit. About 900,000 low-income families took advantage of the tax credit in 2013, according to the state.

“To me, that would be a way of certainly helping those individuals without impacting their employers the way the minimum wage would,” Pritchard said. “Because it would be the state government making the contribution rather than the employer.”

Pritchard' suggestion did little to sway resident Laura Halker, who later voiced support for the minimum wage hike.

“Students, college kids, I don't care who they are, they should make a decent wage,” Halker said.

Fellow resident Sam Jones also stood in support of the increase, as well as creating jobs.

“The people need it because they're so poor,” Jones said, adding he thought something should be done to cut outsourcing and keep factory jobs in America. “That would put a lot of people to work.”

If you go

Rep. Bob Pritchard will host additional discussions this month.

• 10:30 a.m. June 21, Big Rock Park District, 7S405 Madison Ave., Big Rock

• 11 a.m. June 28, Genoa City Hall, 333 E. First St., Genoa

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