Minimum Wage Increase Still Possible

Introduced in 2011, the proposed Illinois Minimum Wage Bill—SB 1545—calls for increasing the minimum wage by 50 cents an hour plus a small amount for inflation every year over four years until it reaches $10.65 an hour. Going forward, the minimum wage would then be adjusted each year for inflation.

Since it did not move last year, there will be some adjustments to the bill, via amendment, to shift the incremental increases from a four-year to a three-year timeframe. While we do not yet have the precise figures for each year’s increase, we are still committed to gradual increases over the next three years in order to move the minimum wage up to at least $10 an hour.

The General Assembly has now passed the mid-point of the 2012 Spring Session, but Senator Lightford, the bill’s chief sponsor, and Raise Illinois advocates still think it’s possible to get this bill passed. We are hard at work lobbying senators, particularly those on the Executive Committee where the bill currently resides, and we are happy to report that the prospects for moving the bill out of committee have improved over the past weeks.

But time is critical. The Senate must take action on SB 1545 very soon in order for it to be considered in the House before the end of the Spring Session.

Opposition to SB 1545 remains strong, but PCG’s commitment to the bill is also strong. Not only would a higher minimum wage help reduce poverty, but it’s also good for the economy (despite what some opponents say!). Low-wage workers will have more money to spend on housing, food, and other basic necessities for their families.

As a result, the latest report from the Economic Policy Institute estimates that raising the minimum wage in Illinois this year will create approximately 20,000 new jobs over the next few years as low-wage workers have more money to spend, thereby stimulating demand for goods and services, and generating an impetus for employers to hire more personnel.

Advocate voices are also critical to get SB 1545 out of the Executive Committee and through the Senate, so that it can be considered in the House before May 31st. There are several steps that you can take to help Senator Lightford and Raise Illinois to move this important bill:

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