Illinois Democrats are hoping to pass a minimum wage hike up to $15-an-hour during the spring legislative session despite the governor’s opposition to increases of any kind.
They are proposing that the state’s minimum wage be increased from $8.25 to $15 over the next five years, the Associated Press reported.
The proposed jump to $15 is larger than the wage hikes in New York and California, where the wages had been $9 and $10 an hour respectively.
Sponsors of the proposed legislation want to force Gov. Bruce Rauner to act on the measure before next year’s gubernatorial election, in which he faces six Democratic challengers.
“We will get a really good opportunity to see where the governor stands,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), who sponsored the wage bill in the House. “Does he side with the 2.3 million people in this state who need a raise now or does he side with the big corporations?”
Rauner has supported small increases in the state’s minimum wage in the past, but he recently told an audience at a business forum April 13 that requiring employers to raise the minimum wage will put an undue burden on the companies that employ these workers.
“That’s not gonna happen,” Rauner said. “Companies will just leave.”
The Illinois House has already advanced a $15 minimum wage bill and expect to vote on it on the House floor in May.
The Illinois Senate is considering two minimum wage bills — one similar to Guzzardi’s proposing a $15 minimum wage, while the other bill proposes that the minimum wage be increased by 50 cents each year until it reaches $11 in 2021.
Business leaders and opponents of the increase claim the minimum wage hike hurts businesses, forcing companies to move across state lines or cut staff. Labor unions and supporters of the increase say raising the minimum wage boosts the economy by giving low-wage workers more money so they can get off government assistance.