SPRINGFIELD — A push to increase Illinois’ minimum wage advanced in the General Assembly on Wednesday, but the sponsor of the legislation suggested it could be months before the measure is called for a vote in the full Senate.

Sen. Kim Lightford, D-Maywood, said she wants to continue negotiating details in her proposal with business groups who are opposed to her plan to boost the current rate of $8.25 per hour to more than $10 an hour by 2015.

“It could take a week or two,” Lightford said. “It could take eight or nine months. I don’t know.”

The proposal, which was forwarded to the full Senate on a 9-5 vote of the Senate Executive Committee, is opposed by business owners who say it would make it harder for Illinois to compete for jobs at a time when the economy remains on shaky footing.

Kelly Wingard, who co-owns the Wildflour Artisan Bakery & Café in Decatur, told members of the Senate panel that she would have to lay off employees, raise prices and risk losing customers if the increase were imposed.

She said her fledgling business operates on a such a slim margin that she often works for no pay.

“Truth be told, most of my employees are better off than I am,” Wingard said.

Illinois is among 18 states with minimum wage rates higher than the national level of $7.25 an hour. The rate was last raised in July 2010 as part of a phased-in increase initiated by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2006.

Lightford said an increase will put more money in the pockets of workers and result in increased retail spending, which will then help create more jobs.

“If you’re willing to work a 40 week, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” Lightford said.

The legislation is Senate Bill 1565.

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(3) comments

working woman

The owner of the bakery will do a lot better when the good people of Decatur have more money to spend at her store! If you raise the minimum wage, you put billions in consumer spending into the economy, which will help business make profits and create jobs. Who are the job creators? The consumers. Pay them a fair wage and they will pay you back tenfold with increased spending.

just_a_voice

That is the most hilarious thing I've ever heard. The high paying jobs are already in Illinois, and there they will stay. If a few minimum wage jobs go to Iowa, well, I guess then you need more burger flippers.

Illinois - "Thanks, Iowa, for all of the high paying jobs. Here are a few more jobs for high school students".

Over taxed

Iowa, "Thanks for the extra jobs, Illinois."

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