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Illinois Senate votes to raise minimum wage to $15 by 2025, a top Pritzker priority

Chicago Tribune

Thursday, February 7, 2019  |  Article  |  Dan Petrela

Minimum Wage (10)

The Illinois Senate on Thursday voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.25 per hour on Jan. 1 and to $15 per hour by 2025, a big step toward giving Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker an early victory in the opening days of his term.

The measure now moves to the House, where Democrats led by Speaker Michael Madigan still could change the proposal before it lands on Pritzker’s desk.

Pritzker has made increasing the pay of low-income workers his first legislative priority. If the House approves next week, the new governor could sign it into law before delivering his first budget proposal on Feb. 20.

It would be an key win for the governor and the Democrats who control the Capitol, but also an affront to the Republican lawmakers and business groups he pledged work with when he was sworn in last month.

The Senate approved the bill approved by a 39-18 vote on Thursday. It calls for a $1 hourly pay hike at the beginning of next year, followed by a 75-cent increase to $10 on July 1, 2020. The minimum wage would then increase by $1 per hour each year on Jan. 1 until it hits $15 per hour in 2025. The proposal also would preserve the way restaurants and other employers with tipped workers count gratuities toward employees’ wages.

The bill proposes a tax credit that would help employers with 50 or fewer full-time employees offset some of the cost of raising wages. Employers would be able to claim a tax credit for 25 percent of the cost in 2020, and the credit would scale back annually, then eventually phase out completely.

Employers would be able to continue paying a lower wage to workers younger than 18 if they work fewer than 650 hours in a year. The minimum wage for younger employees — currently $7.75 per hour — would increase to $8 on Jan. 1 and peak at $13 per hour in 2025.

The proposal still faces strong opposition from business some groups, which have been pushing for a law that sets the minimum wage at different levels in different parts of the state because the cost of living and doing business in many areas Downstate is lower than in Chicago. The city’s $12 hourly rate will rise to $13 on July 1, when the county’s minimum wage will also increase, from $11 to $12.

More to come.

dpetrella@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @PetrellaReports