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$15 Minimum Wage Clears Senate, Heads To House

Gov. J.B. Pritzker (center) with Senate Sponsor Kimberly Lightford (left) and House Sponsor Will Guzzardi (right).
Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois
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Gov. J.B. Pritzker (center) with Senate Sponsor Kimberly Lightford (left) and House Sponsor Will Guzzardi (right).

Illinois is one step closer to having a $15 minimum wage, after the state Senate approved the legislation by a 39-18 vote Thursday.

Dana Vollmer reports.

Republicans argued the increase will drive businesses out of state or force them to lay off employees.

But Democrats said the plan addresses those concerns by including a tax credit and raising the wage over a six-year period, giving businesses time to adjust.

Still, Republicans like state Sen. Dan McConchie from Hawthorn Woods argued there should be smaller increases downstate, where the cost of living is lower.

“A one size fits all approach is exactly the wrong solution for an aggressive measure of this sort,” McConchie said.

Sponsoring Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Democrat from Maywood, said working class people across the state are struggling to exceed the poverty level.

“How do you tell your constituents that—that they don’t deserve to be paid fair wages because of the part of the state they live in?” she asked the Republican senators.

The measure now moves to the House, where Gov. J.B. Pritzker hopes Democrats will approve it without making any changes.

Copyright 2019 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Dana Vollmer is a reporter with WCBU. Prior to moving to Peoria, Dana covered the state Capitol for NPR Illinois. She earned her master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield. She also graduated from Northern Illinois University, where she studied communication and produced Morning Edition for WNIJ. Dana's interests include criminal justice reform, economic equity and the environment.