Madigan wants voter input this fall on raising the minimum wage

Written By Dave McKinney Posted: 05/15/2014, 09:51pm

SPRINGFIELD — House Speaker Michael Madigan plans Friday to push a plan to ask voters this fall to decide whether Illinois’ lowest-earning workers deserve an increase in pay.

Unable to muster support in his chamber to pass a minimum-wage increase this spring, Madigan has proposed alternative legislation that would put an advisory referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Specifically, the Chicago Democrat wants voters to weigh in on increasing Illinois’ $8.25 an hour minimum wage to $10 an hour by Jan. 1, 2015.

“The belief is this will help build support among legislators to get the minimum-wage increase through,” said Madigan spokesman Steve Brown, who predicted the outcome would guide action on the issue during the post-election, lame-duck session of the General Assembly.

Madigan’s legislation is posted for a Friday morning hearing in Springfield. Brown said a floor vote on the measure likely will come next week.

Following President Barack Obama’s lead, Gov. Pat Quinn and other top Illinois Democrats have made the minimum wage a signature issue for the fall campaign.

As much as Madigan is seeking input from voters on the question, his push also could help spur turnout in the Democratic Party base and help Quinn in what is a tight re-election bid against Bruce Rauner.

The referendum also keeps alive what key Democrats believe is a potent campaign weapon against Rauner, the multimillionaire private equity investor who has waffled on the question of whether to require employers put more in the pockets of Illinois’ lowest wage earners.

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