Widespread support for raising the minimum wage in Illinois has led state Democrats to propose an increase of $11 per hour that would be rolled out over two years.
On this year's midterm election ballot, most voters checked "yes" to a Michael Madigan-engineered advisory referendum on whether they'd back a hike in the hourly wage for low-income workers from $8.25 to $10. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn wants to take action on the issue before Republican Bruce Rauner takes office in January. Rauner says lawmakers should wait to make any big decisions until he's officially sworn in.
With pressure on, a group of Senate Democrats pushed a new pitch on Wednesday to raise the wage to $10 in July 2015, then to $10.50 in 2016, then to $11 in 2017. Teenagers would see 50 cents shaved off their hourly wages, and adults who get tips on the job would take home a 60 percent cut of the rate—a concession to protectors of the business community who complain that a boost in the wage would cost companies and damage the economy in the process.
"Raising the wage is about dignity and decency and building an economy that works for everyone," Quinn said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune, after Wednesday's measureadvanced 10 to 3 through a Senate committee.
"Now is the time to get this important legislation passed through the General Assembly for the hundreds of thousands of minimum wage workers across the Land of Lincoln," he stated.
The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Kimberly Lightford, now awaits the full greenlight from the rest off the chamber. According to the Trib, Lightford expects to win Senate approval but isn't as optimistic about the House, which is collectively less liberal-leaning.
"I'm sure it would have a chance. But I don’t have the impression that we’ve got votes coming out of our ears," House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie told the paper, expressing low expectations.