State

Illinois House passes $15 minimum wage bill

The controversial bill would allow wages to increase over a 5-year period

AP file photo
Protesters participate in a rally Sept. 14, 2014, on Chicago's South Side as labor organizers escalate their campaign to raise the minimum wage for employees to $15 an hour. Amid a national push by unions and worker advocates for a $15 minimum wage, Illinois Democrats hope to pass an ambitious hike during the spring legislative session, despite a warning from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner that he opposes an increase of any kind.
AP file photo Protesters participate in a rally Sept. 14, 2014, on Chicago's South Side as labor organizers escalate their campaign to raise the minimum wage for employees to $15 an hour. Amid a national push by unions and worker advocates for a $15 minimum wage, Illinois Democrats hope to pass an ambitious hike during the spring legislative session, despite a warning from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner that he opposes an increase of any kind.

As of Jan. 1, the minimum wage in Illinois could increase to $9 an hour – and continue to rise from there.

The Illinois House of Representatives approved a five-year incremental increase of the minimum wage from its current $8.25 an hour to $15 an hour in a 61-53 vote Tuesday.

McHenry County state Reps. David McSweeney, Steven Reick, Barbara Wheeler, Steven Andersson and Allen Skillicorn all voted against the increase.

Illinois’ current minimum wage is $1 more than the federal rate, and the last time the wage was increased was in 2010 (from $8 an hour to $8.25 an hour). Supporters have said they hope the hike will help Illinois employees who are working minimum wage jobs, but the Illinois Retail Merchants Association warns that it could hurt more than help.

“The political campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour has already resulted in reduced hours and eliminated positions in major cities where this has been enacted, including the City of Chicago,” IRMA said in a statement.

It’s unclear what will happen if Senate Bill 81 makes it to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk. If other regulations are included, it’s possible Rauner will sign the bill. But the Republican has flip-flopped on the issue in the past.

Illinois state government also has been under pressure to pass a budget – the deadline to pass one was Wednesday night.

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