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Pritzker Signs $15 Minimum Wage Into Law

Pritzker signs bill
Gov. JB Pritzker signs the minimum wage increase into law on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed a measure gradually hiking the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, the highest in the Midwest.

It was one of the new Democratic governor's top campaign promises. He signed the six-year plan Tuesday at the Governor's Mansion.

"Today is a victory for the cause of economic justice," Pritzker said in a statement. "This is a monumental day for our state, a day that redefines what it means to live and work in Illinois."

Illinois is on track to be the first state in the Midwest to push its base wage to $15. It increases from $8.25 by $1 on Jan. 1, and jumps to $10 on July 1, 2020. Then, it increases $1 each Jan. 1 until 2025.

Business groups opposed the plan. They wanted a longer phase-in and a regionalized approach with lower minimum wage levels for areas outside Chicago.

llinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider criticized the move.

“This is only the beginning of Pritzker’s war on taxpayers and small business," Schneider said in a statement. "Nearly doubling the minimum wage will destroy entry-level jobs, raise prices for consumers, and bust budgets at every level of government. Pritzker pledged to govern differently and listen to all parties and stakeholders, but those turned out to meaningless words.”

Pritzker noted there are payroll tax credits in the law to ease the transition for employers.

In a statement, the lobbying group Think Big, which supports Pritzker's policy agenda, praised the $15 minimum wage bill.

“More than 40 percent of our workers just received a well-deserved and long-overdue raise, which is why Think Big Illinois made working to increase the minimum wage our first fight," Think Big Illinois Executive Director Quentin Fulks said. "After years of being left behind, Illinois families can now count on an administration that will work towards bold, progressive policies to help everyone get ahead."

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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