The Illinois House of Representatives [official website] approved a bill [text] in a vote of 61-53 on Tuesday to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. The bill proposes a series of increases over the next five years to raise the wage from its current $8.25, which is more than the federally mandated $7.25. To help small businesses cover the costs, tax credits will be issued to those with 50 employees or fewer. Those opposing the legislation [State Journal-Register report] say raising the wage would hurt job growth because it leaves businesses with few options on how to deal with the increase. Mark Grant, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business [official website], said businesses would have two options: raise prices or hire fewer employees, both of which he believes would make the state less competitive. State Representative Will Guzzardi [official website] responded to the criticism by arguing that putting more money into the hands of workers and increasing their spending power will stimulate business growth and economic development. The bill has been put on hold in the House to ensure that it contains all of the proper language is present before being passed on to the Senate. It is unclear [AP report] whether Republican Governor Bruce Rauner [official website] will sign the bill.
The US has not seen [Reuters report] an increase in federal minimum wage since 2009, which has led many states, and now cities, to raise their minimum wages. In March the Baltimore City Council voted 11-3 Monday to approve a bill [JURIST report] that would increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. Earlier that month the Arizona Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] a state law raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020. Also in March, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that St. Louis may raise its minimum wage next year. In January the Supreme Court of Missouri [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the Kansas City Board of Commissioners must place a minimum wage proposal on their upcoming ballot. That same month, the Kentucky Legislature passed [JURIST report] the right-to-work legislation. In November voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington all approved minimum wage increase initiatives [JURIST report], while South Dakota voters rejected a measure to lower the minimum wage.