SPRINGFIELD — With the clock ticking down on Gov. Pat Quinn's administration, Democrats Wednesday renewed their push for an increase in Illinois' minimum wage.
But unlike an advisory question on the Nov. 4 ballot that called for a $10-an-hour wage to begin on Jan. 1, the latest version would delay the start until July 1.
And the new plan would phase in an increase to $11 an hour over a three-year period.
The new details emerged during a news conference Wednesday on the first day lawmakers were back in the Capitol since last spring.
The Senate Executive Committee later endorsed the measure on a 10-3 vote.
State Sen. Kim Lightford, D-Maywood, said 67 percent of the voters gave a thumb's up to the minimum wage increase in the Nov. 4 election. That, she said, is proof the Legislature needs to move forward.
"The people have spoken," Lightford said. "They support a minimum wage increase."
Delaying the increase from its current level of $8.25 an hour until July 1 is all a matter of counting heads in the House and Senate.
If supporters want the higher wage to go into effect on Jan. 1, they need more votes to do it. By waiting, Lightford said they can achieve their goal with simple majorities in the House and Senate.
Quinn made the minimum wage a priority in his unsuccessful re-election bid and wants the General Assembly to send him legislation before his term ends.
Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has asked lawmakers to wait until he takes office in January to act on controversial issues. He says he supports boosting the wage, but only if the increase is combined with a series of changes aimed at reducing costs for business owners, including a reduction in workers' compensation costs.
The House and Senate are scheduled to be in session for four more days before Rauner takes office.
Republicans urged Democrats to wait until Rauner takes office.
"I think it will do more hard than good," said state Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine.