The people have spoken – two-thirds of those going to the polls in November, anyway. And they want to raise the minimum wage in Illinois. State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) cited the support in the non-binding referendum in presenting her latest attempt: an increase to $9 an hour this July, and 50-cent increases annually until topping out at $11 in July 2019.
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The current Illinois minimum is $8.25, a dollar more than the federal minimum. Still, says Lightford, it hasn’t kept pace. “With $1.60 in 1968, when the minimum wage was established,” she argued, “it should be $10.88 today.”
Disagreeing: Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. “25 percent increases over four years, in your largest or second-largest cost of operations,” he said, “is not something you can easily recover. No one’s sales are growing at that rate.”
A couple of hours after the committee vote, Gov. Bruce Rauner gave his State of the State address, including a suggestion for a $10 minimum by 2022 – to snickers from lawmakers.
S.B. 11 has passed the Senate Executive Committee.