Illinois House To Vote On Minimum Wage Bill Thursday

(AP) – An Illinois House committee approved a measure Wednesday that would hike the state’s minimum wage to $15 within six years, setting up the legislation for an immediate floor vote and delivery to a receptive Gov. J.B. Pritzker by next week.

The Labor and Commerce Committee voted 19-10 along party lines to advance Rep. Will Guzzardi’s plan. It would bump the $8.25-an-hour rate to $9.25 on Jan. 1. After moving to $10 on July 1, 2020, it would increase $1 each Jan. 1 until 2025.

“Anyone in this state who is working for that wage will tell you they’re not being compensated fairly,” Guzzardi, a Chicago Democrat, testified. “They’re being kept in poverty by being paid a wage that is less than the value of the dignity of the work that they put in every day.”

The Senate approved the legislation last week. Pritzker, a Democrat, made a $15 minimum a centerpiece of his successful campaign last fall. He has instructed Democrats who control the General Assembly to send him a bill he can sign into law before his Feb. 20 address to unveil his budget proposal.

Major business interests oppose the pace of the phase-in. They have pushed a tiered approach with lower hourly rates in regions outside Chicago that have lower costs of living. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association has suggested phasing in to a $15 base wage in Chicago, $13 in its suburbs and $11 in the rest of the state.

“Small businesses across the state of Illinois are concerned that our local economies are being perceived as comparable to the bustling Chicago, Illinois,” said Karen Conn, whose family owns central Illinois hospitality businesses, including Obed and Issac’s in Peoria. “I live here, work here, play here, every single day, and I’m here to tell you that Springfield is nowhere comparable.”

Pritzker opposes regionalization. He said last week that it would be unfair for workers doing the same jobs in different cities would be paid different wages.

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