The most prominent and controversial policy issue percolating in the Capitol is a possible increase of the minimum wage. Legislation (SB 68) is poised to move in the Senate that would increase the state’s minimum wage from the current $8.25 per hour to $10.65 per hour by 2016.
Quinn has long-supported passage of an increase, and recently stated a minimum wage hike is his top priority before leaving office in January. Governor-elect Bruce Rauner has also indicated he would support a minimum wage increase, though only if coupled with business-friendly concessions, including tort reform, tax reforms and workers’ compensation reforms.
“Increasing the minimum wage is something that needs to be looked at very carefully,” Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon said). “If it’s going to happen, it’s something we should explore once Governor-elect Rauner is officially sworn in.”
Heading into the fall session, the future of the initiative is unclear. Proponents of a minimum wage increase point to the results of an advisory referendum on minimum wage that was placed on the November 4 ballot, and which garnered significant support from Illinois voters. However, minimum wage opponents contend that increasing the minimum wage will hurt Illinois employers, resulting in lay-offs and increased prices on goods and services.
Illinois currently has the seventh highest minimum wage in the United States, which is an additional dollar-per-hour more than the standing federal minimum wage.