I have been asked several times if the minimum wage increases would help Ray Graham Association. The answer is no, it would hurt. As a provider of services to over 2,000 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, I am gravely concerned about the impact that an increase in the minimum wage would have on our ability to continue to provide services to this vulnerable population.
I believe that every working person has the right to earn a fair, living wage. However, the hourly rate of those employees who work firsthand with the people we serve is dictated by the State of Illinois, and despite the fact that inflation has increased almost 12%, there has been no rate adjustment passed by the General Assembly since 2007. This is unacceptable.
If the minimum wage is increased, agencies like Ray Graham Association that receive over 85% of its funding to care for people with disabilities from the State of Illinois, will have to meet the new wage requirements without an increase in funding. The cost to my organization would be over $500,000. Service providers simply cannot afford to do this. Where would this money come from? Would we reduce our staff or would we take away opportunities that we offer to people to maximize their independence and contribute to the communities in which they live and work? We cannot move backwards.
If the minimum wage is increased, there MUST be an increase in the rates paid to community providers like Ray Graham Association. If not, I hope that the State is prepared with a contingency plan to meet the needs of people with disabilities who will undoubtedly lose services, or not be able to access them in the first place.
President & CEO