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Illinois Senate Approves $15 Minimum Wage; Brady and Barickman Vote No

Kimberly Lightford
John O'Connor

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday hailed the state Senate's approval of an increase in the minimum wage to $15.

The Democrat told reporters that he's "now delivering" on his campaign promise for a $15-an-hour minimum. The pronouncement came an hour after the Senate approved 39-18 a six-year phased-in increase proposed by Maywood Democratic Leader Kimberly Lightford.

Voting against the bill were Republican Sens. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington; Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington; and Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet.

“This isn’t about whether or not the minimum wage should be increased, it’s about how much, how fast, and what we can do to minimize the loss of jobs, especially downstate,” Barickman said in a statement. “Unfortunately this legislation doesn’t really do much of anything on any of those fronts.”

Pritzker told Democrats who control the General Assembly he wants to sign an increase into law before he proposes his first annual budget on Feb. 20. The House has to vote yet. But sponsoring Rep. Will Guzzardi, a Chicago Democrat, predicted success.

Republicans and many business interests oppose the measure. They say the increased costs not only to the private sector but taxpayer-financed institutions will be prohibitive.

“I hope that this isn’t an example of how negotiations are going to proceed this spring, because the people of Illinois don’t need any more partisan showdowns,” Barickman added. “I’m also hopeful that this process results in a different, more moderate product once the negotiations begin in the House.”

Lightford and Guzzardi won approval for a wage hike in 2017. Former GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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