Speaker Wants Voters To Decide Minimum Wage

May 16, 2014

  Plans to raise the minimum wage in Illinois have struggled all spring. Instead of letting the proposal fail in the General Assembly, Democratic leaders want to put it to voters. The question on the November ballot would be non-binding.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he wants to ask voters a simple question: "Shall the minimum wage in Illinois for adults, over age 18, be raised to $10 an hour by January first, 2015?"

"Simple question is, do you want the government to help the people at the bottom, or do you not?" Madigan said. "That's it. I'm here for the people at the bottom for this bill to try to help lift them up."

But Republicans, like Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) say the raise would be bad for business. Kay owns a trucking company, and asked the Speaker a series of leading questions, to try and make the point that workers could be laid off.

Kay: "Would you be concerned with the fact that we might have to, as a company or companies in the state, reduce benefits?"

Madigan: "Yeah, I would be concerned, yes. The answer is yes."

Asked if he would work to raise the minimum wage should voters say yes to the referendum, the Speaker would only say he thinks the result would significantly help the legislation.