U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is nosing into the minimum wage issue at the state level. In a conference call on the subject put together by Raise Illinois, the labor coalition that’s seeking an increase, Durbin noted that 66 percent of Illinois voters said yes to $10 an hour on Election Day, and some of those yes voters were Republicans.
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“There is no doubt that many people who voted for a Republican candidate for governor also voted to raise the minimum wage. It was a bipartisan effort, and it demonstrated when the people speak that politicians and elected officials need to listen,” he said.
Durbin has been pushing, without success so far, a federal minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, indexed to inflation. On the table in Springfield is $10 by the middle of next year, $10.50 in 2016 and $11 by mid-2017.
Business groups are hoping to include a provision in any minimum wage legislation that would ban cities from enacting a higher minimum wage. Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, says the referendum that 66 percent of voters approved did not call for such a “pre-emption” provision, and if the federal minimum wage law contained such a provision, Illinois’ minimum wage would now be $7.25 an hour.
The measure that is now under consideration does not include pre-emption.