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November 29, 2006

Illinois House approves Gov. Blagojevich’s plan to increase minimum wage; bill heads to Senate
Illinois’ hourly wage would increase to $7.50 for nearly 650,000 Illinoisans; Wage Would Reach $8.25 by 2010

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House of Representatives today approved Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s legislation that increases the minimum wage to $7.50 per hour in July 2007 and reach $8.25 an hour by 2010.  The raise will help more than 900,000 minimum wage workers and their children earn an additional $2,060 a year.  The Governor first proposed increasing the minimum wage earlier this year and has consistently championed the issue.  Senate Bill 1268, co-sponsored by Representatives Marlow Colvin (D-Chicago), Larry McKeon (D-Chicago), Louis Lang (D-Skokie), Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago), and Deborah Graham (D-Chicago), now moves to the Senate for consideration. 
Fulfilling the Governor’s goal of providing annual increases, the legislation will include annual increases minimum wage going up in July 2008 to $7.75, $8.00 in July 2009, and $8.25 in 2010.  The legislation goes into effect July 1, 2007.
“A person who works hard all day should at least earn enough money to live on.  But if you work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year and earn the minimum wage, you make just over $13,000.  That’s just not enough.  Raising the minimum wage means more than $2,000 a year in extra wages for nearly 650,000 people.  Every so often, we get the chance to do something that directly and tangibly makes people’s lives better.  This is one of those issues and I applaud the House of Representatives for passing this bill,” said Gov. Blagojevich. 
“This bill will ensure that working families in Illinois are able to keep up with cost of living increases, and I am thankful my colleagues in the House took this swift action,” said Rep. Colvin, Sponsor of the Legislation.
“For millions for families throughout the state, making ends meet is becoming more and more difficult as costs for things like groceries increase,” said Rep. McKeon-Chairman of the House Labor Committee and Chief Co-sponsor of the legislation.  “With this bill, people earning the minimum wage will see their pay increase not once, but annually.”
Last month, Governor Blagojevich and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley were joined by members of the Illinois General Assembly, labor leaders and other leaders in the fight for working families when they first announced the proposed minimum wage bill.  The Governor and Mayor have vowed to push for its passage during the fall veto session so those Illinois citizens who need support the most will benefit and be able to better support themselves and their families.  
“I would urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this important bill that will help millions of Illinois parents provide for their children.  Increasing the minimum wage over time just makes sense,” said Rep. Lang, Chief Co-sponsor of the legislation.
“So many hardworking people in Illinois are living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet with the current minimum wage.  The House of Representatives recognizes the importance of ensuring that parents need not choose between providing food or paying bills,” said Rep. Soto, Chief Co-sponsor of the legislation.
"This bill will make life better for thousands of working people by helping them keep up with cost of living increases.  I would urge the Senate to pass this important bill," said Rep. Graham, Chief Co-Sponsor of the legislation.
Gov. Blagojevich fought for and signed legislation raising the minimum wage in 2003 from the federal level of $5.15 an hour to $6.50 an hour (the federal minimum wage remains at $5.15).  While that difference meant an additional $1.35 an hour (or an extra $2,808 a year for a full-time worker), earning the minimum wage still means earning only a total of $13,520 a year.  That means the current minimum wage annual salary represents only 67.6 percent of the 2006 federal poverty level for a family of four ($20,000) and is just above the threshold for a single parent with one child ($13,200).  The increase to $7.50 an hour will result in a pre-tax gross income of $15,600, an additional $2,080.
Despite predictions from opponents of the minimum wage that its increase would harm the economy, since the higher wage took effect, Illinois has added more than 152,000 new jobs since January 2004, which is more than any state in the Midwest according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Illinois has led the nation in job growth twice this year (April and July), which has never happened before in recorded history, and has been named the third best state in the nation for attracting new and expanded corporate facilities by Site Selection Magazine.  Inc. Magazine recently named Gov. Blagojevich as the second best Governor in the nation for fiscal policy (Blagojevich was also named the top governor for health care policy).  In addition, unemployment rate has fallen from 6.7 percent in January 2003, when the fight for the higher minimum wage began, to 4.1 percent today, which is the state’s lowest level on record.


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