Last week, the Senate Executive Committee recommended for adoption an amendment to Senate Bill 68, Senator Kimberly Lightford’s proposal to increase the minimum wage in Illinois. The amended bill could receive a vote from the full Senate as early as Tuesday, December 2.

As we explained in August, legislators in Springfield have been considering an increase in the Illinois minimum wage. Since our last update, Governor Quinn lost his reelection bid to businessman Bruce Rauner. During the campaign, Rauner opposed a stand-alone increase in the minimum wage, while Governor Quinn made a minimum wage increase a central campaign platform. On Election Day, however, Illinois voters passed a non-binding referendum to increase the minimum wage, with 67% of voters supporting an increase. Sen. Lightford and other supporters of an increase now argue the referendum justifies an immediate increase in the minimum wage.

Senate Bill 68, as amended, would increase the minimum wage for workers 18 and older incrementally to $11 per hour by July 1, 2017 as follows:

  • $10.00 per hour by July 1, 2015;
  • $10.50 per hour by July 1, 2016; and
  • $11.00 per hour by July 1, 2017.

Unlike Lightford’s original bill, Senate Bill 68 as amended no longer contains a provision which automatically indexes the minimum wage to inflation. The amendment also adjusted the effective date of the bill to July 1, 2015. Bills that take effect immediately upon passage require a 3/5 majority vote in both houses during the veto session; with its new effective date, Senate Bill 68 requires only a simple majority.

Lawmakers return to Springfield on December 2 to continue the veto session. If the bill passes the Senate, its path to passage in the House is uncertain. Speaker Madigan maintained his veto-proof majority of 71 seats, but many Democratic House members narrowly avoided defeat.