Illinois House and Senate Consider Battling Minimum Wage Bills

Date: January 31, 2017

The Illinois Legislature has been in session for less than a month, but lawmakers are already considering two bills that would raise the state’s minimum wage.

Currently, minimum wage workers in Illinois earn $8.25 per hour. The House bill would raise the rate to $15 per hour by October 2017, and the Senate bill would gradually increase the rate by $0.50 increments each year until it reaches $11 in 2021. The Senate proposal is also part of a bipartisan budget negotiation package, which also includes tax increases and spending cuts, reported the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier.

While the House has not approved a minimum wage increase in the past, the Senate has in both 2014 and 2015. Both times, the bills proposed to raise the minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2019. Those approvals followed a 2014 advisory referendum in which 63 percent of voters favored raising the minimum wage to $10 by Jan. 1, 2015.

However, support for a $15 minimum wage is lower. According to a recent ValuePenguin study, 43 percent of voters in the Midwest think a $15 minimum wage is too high. And in general, 78 percent of Americans believe raising the minimum wage would increase the prices of goods and services. Half of voters also believe a $15 minimum wage would mean fewer minimum wage jobs, and 66 percent believe their incomes deserve to increase if the minimum wage increases to $15 per hour.

NFIB/IL State Director Mark Grant also shared this sentiment, telling the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier that small businesses cannot afford these wage hikes and would have to cut jobs or hours to avoid going out of business.

“Raising the minimum wage pushes up all salaries for all hourly rates,” Grant said. “If the government decides to do this, they have to find other ways to help [businesses] cope with the increase.”

Furthermore, this move would only put Illinois at further disadvantage compared with surrounding states. Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin all have a lower minimum wage of $7.25, the same as the federal rate.

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