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Pritzker urges no changes to minimum wage bill

February 10, 2019

Gov. J.B. Pritzker heralded the Senate’s passage of a bill that raises the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 and pledged to include the increased costs in a balanced budget proposal later this month.

The Senate, which has a Democratic supermajority, passed the bill Thursday before adjourning until Feb. 19.

The measure would increase the state’s $8.25 an hour minimum wage to $9.25 in January 2020. The minimum wage would then increase to $10 that summer. In January 2021, it would go to $11 an hour and continue to go up a dollar a year until hitting $15 an hour in 2025

The bill includes temporary tax credits for certain smaller businesses to offset the cost of higher wages.

State Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, along with every Senate Republican, opposed the measure.

“You don’t know how much it’s going to cost. You have no idea how much it’s going to cost,” Righter said. “I wish we would have heard more from the people this is going to impact.”

Pritzker lauded the bill shortly after the vote during a news conference in his office. He said the House should pass the bill next week without making any changes.

The governor didn’t provide specifics about how he would pay for the higher wages for state workers, but said that his budget factored in those costs.

“We’re going to be presenting that on Feb. 20, you’ll see,” Pritzker said. “But suffice to say that we are going to be presenting a balanced budget that includes the cost of the minimum wage.”

The estimated cost to the state – in the last six months of the next fiscal year when the $9.25 an hour rate kicks in – is north of $80 million. The following year the cost is nearly $270 million.

The Senate is off next week. The House will be back Wednesday.

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