Illinois Democrats wasted little time in helping newly inaugurated Gov. JB Pritzker deliver on a big campaign promise, with House members on Thursday passing a measure to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage over the next few years — ultimately reaching $15 an hour in 2025. The vote was 69-47.
The vote to raise the wage marks the first big legislative priority for the new General Assembly that was sworn in just a month ago. Pritzker has forcefully advocated for the rapid approval of the bill, despite Republican objections that Democrats were not taking their concerns into consideration.
“Raising the minimum wage does not have a net impact on employment. It doesn’t drive jobs out of the state,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago. “All it does is put money in people’s pockets who need it.”
The issue has long-simmered in Springfield despite consistent Democratic control of the House and Senate. Democrats pushed through a similar minimum wage increase in 2017, but former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed that bill. GOP House members did not join Democrats in voting for the minimum wage increase Thursday, citing concerns over the additional costs to business owners — particularly in downstate Illinois where the cost of living is considerably cheaper than in Chicago.
“You are killing downstate Illinois who severely wants to be a huge part of the state’s economy,” said Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville.
The current minimum wage in Illinois has been $8.25 an hour since 2010. That would jump to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2020 under the bill House members approved Thursday. Then, the rates increase each year:
$10/hour on July 1, 2020
$11/hour on Jan. 1, 2021
$12/hour on Jan. 1, 2022
$13/hour on Jan. 1, 2023
$14/hour on Jan. 1, 2024
$15/hour on Jan. 1, 2025
Illinois law provides for a separate rate for employees under the age of 18. Teenagers currently earn $7.75 per hour. The new pay rates for those employees would be:
$8/hour on Jan. 1, 2020
$8.50/hour on Jan. 1, 2021
$9.25/hour on Jan. 1, 2022
$10.50/hour on Jan. 1, 2023
$12/hour on Jan. 1, 2024
$13/hour on Jan. 1, 2025