A proposal to increase Illinois’ minimum wage gained some traction this week when Democrat legislative leaders successfully pushed an amendment through the Senate Executive Committee that would incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage to $10 by July of 2015, and $11 per hour July of 2017.
Senate Bill 68, as amended, will not only increase minimum wage in Illinois to $10 per hour by July 1, 2015, but it allows for an incremental increase over the next two years. The increase of fifty cents per year, would bring the minimum wage to $11 per hour by July 1, 2017. The sponsor of the bill hopes to have the bill approved by the General Assembly before Jan. 1.
Opponents of a minimum-wage increase underscore that increasing the minimum wage will hurt Illinois employers, resulting in layoffs and increased prices on goods and services. However, Gov. Pat Quinn has long supported passage of an increase, and recently stated a minimum-wage hike is his top priority before leaving office in January.
While Governor-elect Bruce Rauner has also indicated he would support a minimum-wage increase, he has stressed that would only be if it was coupled with business-friendly concessions, including tort reform, tax reforms and workers’ compensation reforms. Rauner points out that these initiatives would help employers create more jobs, which will help them absorb the cost of the minimum-wage increase.
Republicans on the Executive Committee said a discussion on the minimum-wage increase is one that should be held when the new legislature and Illinois’ new governor have been sworn into office—not during the fall veto session, or a possible lame-duck session in January.