ILLINOIS — A pay increase for minimum wage workers is a little closer to becoming state law. A $15-an-hour minimum wage is headed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker after the House approved the six-year plan.
The state House on Thursday approved a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2025, allowing the legislature to send the measure to Gov. J.B. Pritzker. who is expected to sign it. The vote in the Democratically controlled House was 69 to 47.
Pritzker, a Democrat, has pledged to sign it before Wednesday. That’s when he unveils his first annual budget plan. He stood on the House floor during the roll call with the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Will Guzzardi of Chicago.
“Today is resounding victory for the 1.4 million Illinoisans who will soon get a hard-earned and well-deserved raise,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “After nearly a decade of delay, I applaud the House and Senate for passing a living wage with the fierce urgency this moment requires. Phasing in the minimum wage over the next six years will put $6,300 a year into the pockets of nearly a quarter of our state’s workforce and billions of dollars into local economies in every corner of our state. Whether you’re a home healthcare provider in McLeansboro or a janitor in Rockford, hardworking men and women across Illinois deserve a raise and will get one. After campaigning on a promise to put Springfield back on the side of working families, I will proudly sign this historic legislation in the days to come.”
In 2017 Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would have raised the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, arguing that it would hurt businesses and ultimately reduce jobs.
Republicans said the increase is too steep and happens too fast. They say businesses will raise prices and cut jobs or even close. Business groups want a tiered minimum wage with lower base levels in parts of the state with lower costs of living.
Republicans and private-sector leaders spent weeks pushing back, saying the increased costs would hurt their businesses — and ultimately their workers — because they’ll have to cut employees’ hours, eliminate jobs or close their doors. Republican state Rep. Mark Batinick of Plainfield expressed concern for less wealthy areas where a $15 minimum wage could be harder for companies to bear.
“You think jobs are magically going to appear in those areas?” Batinick said.
If Pritzker signs the bill as promised, Illinois would be among the first states to approve a minimum wage of $15 per hour, a goal set by the labor-backed Fight for $15 movement. California will hit that level in 2022, Massachusetts will in 2023 and New Jersey in 2024. New York’s minimum wage eventually will reach $15 per hour statewide through a series of increases tied to inflation.
State Representative Andrew Chesney opposes the minimum wage increase. He says we live near Wisconsin and near Iowa in Northwest Illinois where both have a minimum wage of $7.25/hour.
“This increase will lead to job losses among low-wage workers. No wage will be high enough if the jobs are siphoned over our borders. Some businesses, especially in rural areas, will be forced to cut their workforce or go out of business because of this move. Costs to local governments to implement this plan will end up being another hit to overburdened taxpayers when these costs are passed along as well. There is no way I can support this kind of damage to our jobs climate.”
The bill includes a training wage provision to allow employers to pay $2 less than the $15 minimum to teen workers with less than 600 hours worked at a business within one year.
There is a tax credit for small businesses as part of the legislation also. It would start at 25 percent of the difference between the current minimum wage and an employee’s wage in the final quarter of the previous calendar year. It would decrease by 4 percent each year until it hits 5 percent in the final two years.
“It seems to me that the minimum wage increase legislation is moving very quickly, and I think this issue is so big and so important to so many people that we should slow this process down and carefully weigh what we are doing,” said state Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City. “Unfortunately, the Democratic majority is moving full speed ahead and there does not seem to be any interest in making even modest concessions to downstate Illinois. We will see what transpires at the next meeting but there seems to be little interest in compromise.”
Despite concerns from Republicans of a rushed process to approve the bill, state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, said the bill was years in the making and would “earn good faith” with minimum wage workers.
Hourly Minimum Wage Rates by Year Pursuant to Public Act 94-1072
- New employees (first 90 days of employment) and employees under age 18 may be paid up to 50 cents less per hour.
- Tipped employees may be paid 60% of the hourly minimum wage.
- Certain employees must be paid overtime, at time and one-half of the regular rate, after 40 hours of work in a workweek.
Category of Employees
|Adults (18 or older)|
|First 90 days with employer for non-tipped employees||$7.75|
|Tipped employees after first 90 days of employment||$4.95|
|First 90 days with employer for tipped employees||$4.65|
|Youths (under 18)|
Illinois Minimum Wage History
What do you think? Is $15.00 by 2025 good for Illinois? Chime in.