SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate on Thursday passed an increase in the state’s minimum wage to $11 by 2019, one day after Gov. Bruce Rauner used his State of the State speech to pitch a lower, more gradual increase.
The bill by Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, passed 35-18 and now moves to the House. It increases the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9 by July 1. The wage would then increase by 50 cents every year until it reaches the $11 ceiling. It also includes a tax credit for businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
Lightford said there are “hundreds of thousands” of minimum wage workers in Illinois.
“This will be a great first step to help them,” Lightford said.
But it also might allow Chicago a higher minimum wage than the rest of the state. The Chicago City Council last year passed an ordinance that raises the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2019. Lightford’s bill allows that to go forward, but it prohibits the city from raising the wage beyond $13 unilaterally.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is backing the plan.
Rauner, a Republican, told the Democratic-controlled General Assembly on Wednesday he wants to raise the minimum wage to $10 over seven years. Lawmakers openly laughed at the proposal.
But Thursday, Republican senators complained Lightford was moving too fast — and didn’t give the governor a chance to weigh in.
“I think the governor should be given an opportunity to present a proposal,” said Sen. Chris Nybo, R-Elmhurst.