clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Senator holding out hope for minimum-wage miracle

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan sent lawmakers home for the holidays Wednesday without passing a minimum wage hike, but the measure’s top supporter in the Senate was holding out hope for a holiday miracle.

Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, said she still had faith the issue could be addressed in a special legislative session before Republican Bruce Rauner takes over the governor’s mansion from outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn in January.

“I know for sure that the governor is looking to call a special session, for the House to return and take up the measure,” Lightford said after the Senate approved increasing the minimum wage to $11 an hour by a 39-18 vote.

But Madigan, D-Chicago, sent House lawmakers home without taking up Lightford’s bill. The House isn’t scheduled to be back in session until Jan. 14, after Rauner is sworn in.

Quinn sources said the governor still wants to pass a minimum-wage increase before he leaves office. Rauner wants to combine the issue with pro-business reforms, and it’s expected that passage will be harder once he becomes governor.

But Quinn doesn’t want to call a special session unless passing a wage hike is a real possibility.

Quinn could call a special session himself. One also could be called jointly by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Madigan.

“We will continue working with the members of the House of Representatives to raise the wage, which will be good for the economy and for workers,” Quinn’s office said in a statement Wednesday evening.

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said his office was told by Quinn’s office that the governor would not be calling a special session. Brown also said there isn’t enough support for Lightford’s bill to clear the House because there aren’t enough votes for raising the minimum wage beyond $10 an hour.

“The bill passing the Senate doesn’t really help the issue because we encountered votes falling off for $10 [an hour],” Brown said.

He said a special session called by both Madigan and Cullerton hadn’t been discussed as of Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday, the Chicago City Council voted 44-5 in favor of raising the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2019 within city limits.