Illinois Democrats in talks to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour, an early priority of Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Some Democratic lawmakers are trying to nearly double Illinois’ statewide minimum wage to $15 per hour over several years, aiming to give raises to more than a million workers and an early victory to new Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The state minimum wage has been $8.25 since 2010 despite Democrats’ repeated efforts to raise it. It’s $12 in Chicago and $11 in Cook County, with both set to go up by $1 per hour this summer. In 2017, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would have raised it statewide to $15 over five years.

Now, with Democrats in control of the governor’s mansion and both the Illinois House and Senate, they are charging ahead on an issue that’s popular with many of their supporters. But Pritzker could risk alienating business interests and Republican lawmakers in his first big legislative effort, shortly after sounding bipartisan tones when he was sworn in last month.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat who has tried to raise the minimum wage before, said she hopes to introduce her new proposal as early as Tuesday. That timetable could give Pritzker a chance to sign a minimum wage increase into law before delivering his first budget proposal to lawmakers on Feb. 20, she said.

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February 5, 2019 at 05:09AM

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