KL minwage mrSince Jan. 1, nine states have increased their minimum wage. Today a plan to raise the minimum wage in Illinois to $9 per hour on July 1 passed the Senate. The legislation would raise the minimum wage incrementally by 50 cents a year until 2019, ultimately leading to a new minimum wage of $11 per hour.

“We are answering to the will of the people through the passage of this legislation,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), the sponsor of the newly passed legislation and a strong supporter of raising the minimum wage. “The minimum wage should be a living wage. If you work full-time, you shouldn’t have to rely on government support to put food on your family’s table or a roof over your head.”

Illinois’ current minimum wage is $8.25 per hour. A single parent working a full-time minimum wage job qualifies for Food Stamps, Medicaid and often housing assistance. In addition, many minimum-wage workers are forced to work several part-time jobs to make ends meet.

On Wednesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed raising Illinois’ minimum wage to $10 over the next seven years. Lightford says that’s not good enough.

“Illinois families are struggling now. They can’t afford Gov. Rauner’s baby-step plan,” Lightford said. “I understand that some small businesses are struggling, too, which is why my plan does have a reasonable phase-in process.”

The legislation also institutes a tax credit for businesses with fewer than 50 employees that gives them three years to adjust to the higher wage.

“When you take the cost of living into account, 50 years ago, the minimum wage was worth a lot more, allowing workers to earn a living wage that kept their families financially independent and functioning as part of the Illinois economy,” said Sen. Lightford.

Adjusting for inflation since the minimum wage was instituted in 1968 at $1.60 per hour, the wage today should stand at more than $10 per hour. Raising the minimum wage to $11 per hour would increase annual wages to $22,880 per in 2019. Though it would still be a struggle, this wage would lift many families out of poverty and end their reliance on state and federal aid.

The legislation, Senate Bill 11 now goes to the House for consideration.

Sen. Lightford talks about the minimum wage increase:

Category: News

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Illinois led the movement to end slavery 150 years ago. We transformed our country’s landscape by championing the Emancipation Proclamation and being first to ratify the 13th Amendment.

In fact, we were in such a rush to ratify the amendment that we started the act of ratification before Lincoln even signed the Emancipation Proclamation, seeing the document’s ratification as a point of local pride for this area and our state. The Illinois legislature has been at the forefront of freedom and progress in the distant and recent past and we will continue in this spirit on into the future.

We are now home to the first African-American president, Barack Obama, but let’s take some time to remember who fought to allow him to run for the highest office in the land.

Illinois was home to Dred Scott, whose story has become famous for his fight for manhood.

Illinois was home to an impactful abolitionist, Elijah Lovejoy, as he published his newspaper attacking the evils of slavery and inequity; and men like Frank McWorter, a former slave, who bought his freedom and founded a town he named New Philadelphia, where he made enough money to buy the freedom of his wife, 13 children, and 6 grandchildren.

We have come a long way since 1865, since such times when men and women had to fight for their right to be free from bondage and the ability to live equally under the law, and we can continue to learn from their struggles, and apply them to the continued injustices of today’s world.

We need to continue to ensure that everyone has reasonable access to the voting booth. We need to make sure that constitutional, inalienable rights are upheld for everyone, everywhere.

In 2015, women still do not have the same rights as men in the workforce. Women of color, especially, face a persistent income disparity. It is time for Illinois to lead the charge in unleashing women from the shackles of the gender pay gap. And in this same spirit, we need to assure that those working for the minimum wage in this state are able to live off of their work, that their hard work is properly and justly rewarded.

Throughout the last 150 years, we supported the Emancipation Proclamation, inspired the formation of the NAACP and served as the home of abolitionists, pioneering politicians and our current president, Barack Obama.

In the immortal words of Dr. King, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle,” and it is in the spirit of these words that on the anniversary of the abolishment of slavery in America, that we continue to stand proudly for equality and justice for all.

          

Category: News

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