Illinois’ minimum wage would increase to $9.25 per hour on Jan. 1 and $15 per hour by 2025 under a Democratic plan introduced Wednesday in the state Senate.
Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat who for years has been attempting to raise the minimum wage from $8.25, filed her proposal after a week of behind-the-scenes negotiations with labor leaders, business groups and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration.
Lightford said last week that her goal is for lawmakers to pass the bill in time for Pritzker to sign it into law before delivering his budget proposal to the legislature Feb. 20. If that happens, it would be a major early victory for Prtizker, who campaigned on raising wages for working families.
Lightford’s proposal is directly in line with the governor’s position on raising Illinois’ minimum wage for the first time since 2010, according to an administration document.
A Pritzker spokeswoman did not respond immediately Wednesday to a request for comment.
The bill calls for a $1 hourly pay hike at the beginning of next year, followed by a 75-cent increase to $10 on July 1, 2020. The minimum wage would then increase by $1 per hour each year on Jan. 1 until it hits $15 per hour in 2025.
The proposal also would preserve the way restaurants and other employers with tipped workers count gratuities toward employees’ wages.
Lightford’s bill also proposes a tax credit that would help employers with 50 or fewer full-time employees offset some of the cost of raising wages. Employers would be able to deduct 25 percent of the cost in 2020, and the credit would then scale back annually until hitting 5 percent in 2025. It would phase out entirely for employers with more than five employees in 2028.
The credits wouldn’t be available to franchise owners whose businesses belong to chains with more than 50 workers.
Employers would be able to continue paying a lower wage to workers younger than 18 if they work fewer than 650 hours in a year.
The minimum wage for younger employees — currently $7.75 per hour — would increase to $8 on Jan. 1 and peak at $13 per hour in 2025.
While some business groups, including the Illinois Restaurant Association, are likely to back Lightford’s plan, other interests are almost certain to oppose it.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association, for example, has been advocating for a plan that sets the minimum wage at different levels in different parts of the state. Similar plans have been adopted in New York and Oregon.
Chicago and Cook County have had a head start on raising the minimum wage. The city’s $12 hourly rate will rise to $13 on July 1, and the county’s $11 minimum wage will increase to $12.
Check back for updates.
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February 6, 2019 at 01:33PM