Illinois Senate approves bill to raise minimum wage to $15
The Illinois State Senate voted last Thursday to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 per hour.
"We have finally arrived at a place where we get an opportunity to lift working families out of poverty," said Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), who sponsored Senate Bill 1. It’s been a long haul to get to this place. We need to raise the minimum wage."
Lightford chided Republicans who spoke out against the bill.
"Never have I heard a Republican say we want to keep people on SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) or TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or WIC (Women, Infants and Children)," Lightford said. "My whole time here you have not wanted to help these programs."
Sen. Toi W. Hutchinson (D-Olympia Heights) said the people of Illinois have been waiting since 2010 for a raise in their salaries.
"Today is the day we finally get to do something about it," Hutchinson said.
Prior to voting on the bill, Sen. Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) said he wanted to see everyone vote "yes."
"If you don’t vote 'yes' on this bill, you have a lot of explaining to do when you go home," Hastings said.
Republicans who spoke out against the bill prior to its passing said they were worried about how it would affect other problems in the state.
Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) even suggested a two-tier approach, where areas like Chicago would have higher minimum wages than other parts of the state.
Sen. Jason A. Barickman (R-Bloomington) said he was concerned it would affect education systems.
"I could talk about the macro-level impact on this because there have been studies done," Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Champaign) said. "Farmers will be harmed by this bill."
Rose said a survey was sent out to businesses, health care providers, community colleges and other institutions, and they were asked how it would affect them once the bill is fully phased in.
"The results were not good," Rose said. "I’m worried about who is going to be hurt (by this bill). How many people are going to get laid off? How many students won’t have work-study programs? How much will tuition go up? This bill should not go any further. One size does not fit all."
Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorne Woods) echoed what Rose said.
"A one size fits all approach is the wrong solution," McConchie said. "Entry-level and unskilled jobs will be lost because of this."
Sens. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) and Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) also said they were concerned about the bill and that the legislation would have an adverse impact. Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago), Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) and Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) supported the bill.
The bill was declared passed with 39 yes votes and 18 no votes. It will now go on to the House of Representatives for a vote.
The bill raises the minimum wage to $15 and offers a tax credit to employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees to help offset the cost of raising wages.
Employers will need to increase the minimum wage every six months from Jan. 1, 2020 until Jan. 1, 2025 in $1 increments and one $0.75 increment until the minimum wage goes from $8.25 to $15 for employees over the age of 18, according to the bill.
Teenagers will receive wage increases during the same time frame to raise their wages from $7.75 per hour to $13 per hour by 2025, according to the bill.