Illinois Senate approves hiking minimum wage to $15 per hour

(AP) -- The Illinois Senate has approved increasing the state's minimum wage to $15 per hour over six years.

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 39-18 Thursday, February 7 on a largely party-line vote. The proposal would increase the $8.25-an-hour minimum wage by $1.75 next year and $1 more on each Jan. 1 until 2025.

Republicans complained the cost to employers will be too high and Illinois will lose jobs. And they say state government will pay a steep price to absorb the cost taxpayer-financed institutions and those funded by Medicaid will have to pay.

Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford says she's surprised to hear GOP lawmakers say they don't want to help the working poor get off of public assistance rolls.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker campaigned on the issue.   The Democrat told reporters that he's "now delivering" on his campaign promise for a $15-an-hour minimum. The pronouncement came an hour after the Senate OK'd 39-18 a six-year phased-in increase proposed by Maywood Democratic Leader Kimberly Lightford.

Pritzker told Democrats who control the General Assembly he wants to sign an increase into law before he proposes his first annual budget on Feb. 20. The House has to vote yet. But sponsoring Rep. Will Guzzardi, a Chicago Democrat, predicted success.

Republicans and many business interests oppose the measure. They say the increased costs not only to the private sector but taxpayer-financed institutions will be prohibitive.

Lightford and Guzzardi won approval for a wage hike in 2017. Former GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it.

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