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$15 Minimum Wage Clears Senate, Heads To House

Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois
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.

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.

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