Earlier this week, the Democrat-controlled legislature in Illinois sent to Gov. Pat Quinn a measure that would place a minimum wage hike on the November ballot. The proposal would ask voters whether they support an increase in the state minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $10. Illinois does not have a referendum process, so the vote is nothing more than a poll. It has no force of law.
The minimum wage in Illinois is already $1 an hour higher than the federal minimum. The unemployment rate in Illinois, 7.9% in April, is also much higher than the national average. Many economists warn that increasing the minimum wage would cause employers to shed jobs.
Republicans have ripped the advisory referendum as a political ploy designed to drive turnout on election day. Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature. Pat Quinn, the Democrat governor supports an increase. Republicans in the state Legislature have even offered compromise proposals to phase-in a minimum wage increase.
Raising the minimum wage, though, has become a top priority of national Democrats. For example, President Obama pushed for a federal increase in his State of the Union address.
An effort to increase the minimum wage through the legislature stalled this spring.