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Bill to give voters say on minimum wage goes to governor

SPRINGFIELD – A plan to ask voters whether Illinois should raise the minimum wage passed the General Assembly today.

“Giving the people an opportunity to voice their opinions should help inform our debate at the State Capitol,” said state Sen. Kimberly A. Lightford, D-Maywood, the sponsor of the legislation and a supporter of raising the minimum wage.

The measure would put the following question on the Nov. 4 ballot:

“Shall the minimum wage in Illinois for adults over the age of 18 be raised to $10 per hour by Jan. 1, 2015?”

The referendum would be purely advisory and have no legal consequences.

Lightford has sponsored legislation to raise the minimum wage to more than $10 per hour.

“The minimum wage should be a living wage,” Lightford said. “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. An individual who works a full-time minimum-wage job for 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year only makes $17,160 per year. A single parent working a minimum wage job qualifies for Food Stamps (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance), Medicaid and (in many parts of the state) housing assistance. In addition, many minimum-wage employers only give part-time hours.

Raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour would raise annual wages to $20,800 per year. 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, House Bill 3814, now goes to the governor for his consideration.

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