Bill passes House to raise minimum wage to $15, heads to Pritzker’s office


Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Hundreds of protesters rally for a $15 an hour minimum wage on Sept. 4, 2014 in Chicago. Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign a bill to raise the state minimum wage to $15 after the House approved the legislation Thursday.

Clare Proctor, Assistant City Editor

The Illinois House of Representatives voted 69-41 Thursday in favor of a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the course of six years. The bill will now go to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for approval.

The legislation, which Pritzker is likely to sign into law, will increase the state’s minimum wage — currently $8.25 per hour — by $1 on Jan. 1, 2020 and another 75 cents on July 1, 2020. The minimum wage will then increase by $1 at the start of each year until reaching a rate of $15 per hour by Jan. 1, 2025. The state Senate approved the bill last Thursday.

Pritzker said in a statement Thursday that he would “proudly sign” the legislation into law, according to the Chicago Tribune. He is expected to do so before he releases his budget plan on Feb. 20. Raising the minimum wage has been one of Pritzker’s top priorities since taking office, and it was one the primary tenets of his campaign platform.

“Whether you’re a home health care provider in McLeansboro or a janitor in Rockford, hardworking men and women across Illinois deserve a raise and will get one,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker stood on the House floor — alongside Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), the bill’s sponsor — as representatives cast their votes Thursday afternoon. The governor said raising the minimum wage will help working families in Illinois.

Senate Majority Leader and bill co-sponsor Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) said in a statement it is lawmakers’ responsibility to compensate workers fairly for their role as “the force that keeps business moving.”

“We’re one step closer to bringing stability to a population that was neglected during the previous administration,” Lightford said.
The Illinois General Assembly’s approval of the bill has faced backlash from the business sector and Republicans who argue that the increased minimum wage could cause businesses to have to reduce employees’ hours or eliminate jobs.

Todd Maisch, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO and president, said in a Thursday news release that the legislation is the “most anti-job bill in recent memory.” Raising the minimum wage places an increased burden on small businesses in the state, as well as on Illinois’ financial situation, Maisch said.

“The bill indeed may be lost, but the battle is not over,” Maisch said. “Enhanced tax relief for small businesses and other pro-business reforms may still mitigate the damage done by this legislation.”

Maisch said Illinois lawmakers need to commit to passing future legislation to undo the harm raising the minimum wage will cause.

House Speaker Michael Madigan said in a Thursday news release that raising the minimum wage is a “historic step.”

“I’m proud we passed this critical legislation today to give our working families a long overdue raise,” Madigan said. “Supporting a higher wage means a host of benefits for our state, including better-paying jobs, increased consumer spending and a growing economy.”

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Twitter: @ceproctor23

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