Proposal to hike the minimum wage in Il moves forward

Mar 21, 2014

A plan to raise the minimum wage in Illinois has cleared its first legislative hurdle. But as IPR'S Hannah Meisel reports, it continues to draw criticism from business groups.

The plan would gradually increase the state's minimum wage to $10.65 an hour. Illinois' current rate is$8.25, already one of the highest in the nation.

Proponents say putting more money into the pockets of low-income workers will boost the economy. But Rob Carr, with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, disagrees.

"We know it doesn't fight poverty because over the same decade that we've had the minimum wage go up 50 percent, Illinois' poverty rate has increased 36 percent."

Carr says the hike would be a "job-killer," especially for small businesses like Mike Murphy's. Murphy has owned Charlie Parker's Diner in Springfield through nine increases in the minimum wage. He opposes another, but asked whether those hikes have cost his employees jobs:

"Uh, I have not fired someone, nor have I closed the business. I'm not crying wolf here. I will not close my business because of that. We will make it work, but it will be painful."

The legislation was approved in committee and is awating a vote by the full Senate.