The sponsor of a minimum wage hike says she'll push to get it passed during the legislature's veto session, which began today, Tues. Nov. 19.
Sen. Kim Lightford, a Democrat from Maywood, pointed to the results of a non-binding referendum. Sixty-seven percent of Illinois voters said “yes," Illinois should raise its minimum wage to $10 an hour by Jan. 1, 2015. The current rate is $8.25.
Results showed support for an increase in much of the state, including traditionally Republican areas, like the Chicago suburbs and downstate.
"Many people think that this is just a Democrat issue, that this is just a Chicago issue. They don't look at poverty as ... it's not a Democrat or Republican issue. Poverty doesn't have a face. Poverty says if I work 40 hours a week, I deserve to not come to the state government for subsidies," Lightford says.
Lightford's latest proposal would bring Illinois' minimum wage to $10 in July, raise it fifty-cents the following summer, and eventually reach $11 an hour in 2017.
The referendum could provide the cover for legislators who were hesitant to approve a hike during the regular spring session.
Gloria Davis pleaded for them to do it now. Davis says despite working daily at a meat packing warehouse, she can't afford housing, so she moves from shelter to shelter in Chicago.
"It's actually vital. We're out here and we're, we're drowning," she says.
Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has asked legislators to wait to vote on a minimum wage increase until he's sworn into office in January. He says a hike should be paired with pro-business policies; business groups say a hike will lead to layoffs. But Gov. Pat Quinn has made a wage hike a priority before he leaves office.