- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Legislature is preparing to tackle two proposals that would raise the minimum wage in the state.

Senate members have proposed raising the minimum wage, which is currently $8.25 an hour, by 50 cents each year until reaching $11 in 2021 as part of a bipartisan budget package, the Herald and Review (https://bit.ly/2jovbnZ ) reported. A House bill is looking to bump up minimum wage to $15 an hour by October.

About 63 percent of voters were in favor of raising the minimum wage for adults to $10 in a 2014 advisory memorandum. The Senate approved bills in 2014 and 2015 to raise the minimum wage to $11 by 2019, but the House hasn’t approved an increase.

The new Senate bill, proposed by Maywood Democratic Sen. Kimberly Lightford, is being considered along with a “grand bargain” on the Illinois budget that includes tax increases, spending cuts, new casino licenses and other proposals. Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate have said lawmakers from both parties will support all the pieces of the package.

Chicago Democratic Rep. Mary Flowers, the sponsor of the House bill, said raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is necessary because some employees must work two jobs to support their families. She says the Senate’s proposal of a minimum wage of $11 an hour isn’t sufficient for people’s basic needs.

“We are expecting them to do more with less,” Flowers said. “We need to provide them with the tools that they need and that is a wage of $15 an hour so they can pay their rent.”

Mark Grant, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said small businesses can’t afford the wage increases.

“Raising minimum wage pushes up all salaries for all hourly rates,” he said. “If the government decides to do this, they have to find other ways to help (businesses) cope with the increase.”

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Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com

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