Surrounded Tuesday by business and labor leaders, legislators and working families, Gov. JB Pritzker signed SB 1, making Illinois the first state in the Midwest to phase in a $15 minimum wage over the next six years and giving workers their first raise in nearly a decade.
The historic legislation gives 1.4 million Illinoisans a hard-earned and well-deserved raise and provides small businesses and non-profits with a tax credit. After campaigning on a promise to put Springfield back on the side of working families, Pritzker passed the bill in his first month in office.
The following is an excerpt of the governor’s remarks from the bill signing ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion:
“Ladies and gentlemen, today is a great day for Illinois’ working families. And it has been a long time coming. It’s been 9 long years since workers got a raise. And even 9 years ago, the raise amounted to 25 cents an hour.
“For 9 long years there were an array of forces lined up against giving a raise to the people who work hard to provide home care for seniors, child care for toddlers, who wash dishes at the diner and who farm our fields.
“Today is a victory for the cause of economic justice.
“I traveled the state for the last two years and promised the workers of Illinois that I would stand up for them and fight for 15. Today it’s my great honor to deliver on that commitment.
“Make no mistake, this did not happen overnight nor did it happen without the powerful voices of those who fight for workers’ rights.
“It took years of advocacy by so many people across the state and a willingness by businesses to sit at the bargaining table to hash out a deal so that the people of Illinois wouldn’t have to wait any longer. There are a lot of thanks and praise that should be offered. I want to particularly thank organizations like the Chicago Federation of Labor, Illinois AFL-CIO, SEIU, UFCW and the Illinois Restaurant Association.
“And I want to thank the many business owners who provided context and ideas in the process.
“Businesses large and small, from local restaurants to Amazon, made it clear that hardworking employees should be fairly compensated. And even when we didn’t agree on everything, they were willing to be part of the negotiations to make the minimum wage work in our communities.
“Workers across the state and organizations like Fight for 15 and Women Employed rose up and demanded to be heard.
“None of this could have happened without the bold legislators who led the fight in the House and the Senate. I especially want to recognize Senator Kim Lightford, along with Rep. Jay Hoffman, Rep. Will Guzzardi and Rep. Marcus Evans in the House. Each of them played a critical role over years. I’m so proud to stand alongside them in state government as we put Springfield back on the side of working families.
“This is a monumental day for our state, a day that redefines what it means to live and work in Illinois.
“Today, we are making it clear that if you work hard in this state, you deserve to be able to afford the goods and services you produce.
“Today, we are saying that the right to a fair wage does not end at Chicago’s border. Workers in East St. Louis, and Peoria, and Springfield deserve that same fair pay.
“And for small businesses and non-profits, especially downstate and in the collar counties, we’ve worked to ease the transition over the next six years with a state tax credit.
“Today, we boldly declare that Illinois is a state that welcomes working families, setting a high standard for workers’ rights, economic opportunity and economic justice.
“Our work is not over. Tomorrow I will present a budget that begins to stabilize our states finances while starting to rebuild our human services, our universities and P-12 education, and our public safety along with the funding needed to make this minimum wage a reality.
“”In the months that follow, I will work with the General Assembly to advance my agenda to bring real and lasting opportunity to all of our working families. We’ll pass a capital bill to put people to work restoring the infrastructure of our state. We’ll help our small businesses grow, and we’ll attract new businesses, large and small, to Illinois. We’ll also pass a fair income tax that will lower taxes on the middle class and those striving to get there. We make no little plans. So stay tuned.
“But today we celebrate. This will improve the lives of families across Illinois, and it will lift people out of poverty. The accomplishment here is nothing short of historic.
“Because of the people in this room and leaders, advocates, and workers across our state, 1.4 million Illinoisans are going to get a raise. 1.4 million Illinoisans are getting new opportunity and new hope. Let’s be proud of that. Let’s celebrate that. And then, let’s remember there’s more work to be done for working families.”