New minimum wage clears Assembly, Pritzker eager to sign

Calling it a ‘resounding victory,’ governor says, ‘I will proudly sign this historic legislation’

Gov. Pritzker lobbies on the House floor before the vote on the minimum wage. (Twitter/Andrea Kluger)

Gov. Pritzker lobbies on the House floor before the vote on the minimum wage. (Twitter/Andrea Kluger)

By Ted Cox

The minimum wage is going up a maximum amount in Illinois.

The House followed its Senate colleagues in the General Assembly Thursday, approving Senate Bill 1 to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 by a vote of 69-47.

Gov. Pritzker was on the House floor before the vote and immediately cheered the move after.

“Today is a resounding victory for the 1.4 million Illinoisans who will soon get a hard-earned and well-deserved raise,” Pritzker said in a statement issued moments after the vote. “After nearly a decade of delay, I applaud the House and Senate for passing a living wage with the fierce urgency this moment requires.”

Only a week ago, the Senate approved the bill, sponsored by Sen. Kimberly Lightford of Maywood, by a margin of more than 2-to-1, 39-18.

Rep. Will Guzzardi of Chicago, who sponsored the bill in the House, said the experience was powerful on the floor.

Rep. Celina Villanueva of Chicago argued passionately for passage, saying she didn’t remember seeing her parents during daylight hours for the first 10 years of her life.

Pritzker championed a hike in the minimum wage on the campaign trail, and passage by the General Assembly gave him his first major legislative victory exactly a month into his term as governor.

The Illinois minimum wage currently stands at $8.25 an hour, as it has throughout the decade. The bill that passed the General Assembly would raise it to $9.25 next year and then hike it incrementally year by year until reaching $15 in 2025.

“Phasing in the minimum wage over the next six years will put $6,300 a year into the pockets of nearly a quarter of our state’s workforce and billions of dollars into local economies in every corner of our state,” Pritzker said. “Whether you’re a home health-care provider in McLeansboro or a janitor in Rockford, hardworking men and women across Illinois deserve a raise and will get one. After campaigning on a promise to put Springfield back on the side of working families, I will proudly sign this historic legislation in the days to come.”

While some business groups opposed the increase outright, and others suggested different minimum wages for Chicago, its collar counties, and downstate, especially in border towns, the Illinois Restaurant Association backed it, and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute said it would actually have the greatest impact outside Chicago, increasing earnings $8,000 in central Illinois around Springfield, $7,000 in east-central Illinois including Champaign-Urbana and around Rockford, and $6,000 in Metro East near St. Louis.