– Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s legislation increasing the minimum wage to $7.50 per hour in July 2007 and to $8.25 an hour by 2010 won final legislative approval today, passing in the Senate, 40 votes to 17. The minimum wage increase will boost the average annual income for nearly 650,000 full-time minimum wage workers and their children from $13,520 to $15,600 next year. By 2010, the yearly salary for a full-time minimum wage earner will be $17,160. 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), Deborah Graham (D-Chicago), and Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Fulfilling the Governor’s goal of providing annual increases, the legislation will include annual increases for three years: to $7.75 in July 2008, $8.00 in July 2009, and $8.25 in 2010. The legislation goes into effect July 1, 2007.
“People working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year earning minimum wage bring home just $13,000. That’s just not enough. Raising the minimum wage will make it a little easier for these families to get by. It means more than $2,080 a year in extra wages next year for workers to meet the obligations of daily life. I would like to thank members of the General Assembly for approving this increase, and I look forward to signing it,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
“Today, the Illinois General affirmed a principle as old as the Bible -- everyone deserves a decent day’s pay for a hard day’s work,” said Lt. Governor Pat Quinn. “In our state, we believe that men and women who work hard should earn enough money to provide for themselves and their families. This bill is an important step toward that goal.”
“As legislators we cannot let the hard working families of Illinois be left behind. As prices increase, it becomes harder and harder in live off a minimum wage salary. I am pleased to report that the Senate moved swiftly in passing Governor Blagojevich’s progressive minimum wage increase,” said Senate bill sponsor Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood).
In October, Gov. Blagojevich, Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn 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.
“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 Senate 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.”
“I am pleased my colleagues in the Senate voted 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 and Senate 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 like to thank the Senate for passing this important bill,” said Rep. Graham, Chief Co-Sponsor of the legislation.
“Workers who care for our young and those who care for our seniors, workers who clean the buildings in the middle of the night and those who change the beds in the hotels – all of these hard working people and many more deserve a raise, one that will be indexed to insure a steady, reliable wage for their families,” said AFL-CIO President Margaret Blackshere.
“Working people in Illinois and throughout the country are seeing the buying power of their wages decrease while they work harder and are more productive than ever,” said SEIU President Tom Balanoff. “In raising the minimum wage, the Governor and the Illinois General Assembly have shown that they are willing to stand with these working people and do what is within the state government's power to do to improve their lives.”
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). When the final rate of $8.25 per hour takes effect in 2010 that will mean Gov. Blagojevich has helped boost pay for minimum wage workers in Illinois by $3.10 per hour, or 60 percent. This makes Illinois a national leader in wages for workers.
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, the 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.