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State

Minimum wage bill passes Illinois Senate committee

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A plan to make Illinois' minimum wage the highest in the nation is heading to the Senate floor, but it could still see some changes before it's called for a vote.

Legislation to raise the wage from $8.25 to $10.65 per hour over a three-year period passed a Senate committee by a 10-5 vote on Thursday.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Democrat from Maywood, said the measure would bring people out of poverty and make them less reliant on government assistance programs.

"Do we want to continue to subsidize those that are actually working, or should the businesses that they work for pay them a living wage for the work that they do?" Lightford said.

The issue is also a key component of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's re-election campaign, and President Barack Obama recently increased the minimum wage for federal government workers to $10.10 per hour. The federal minimum wage for the private sector is $7.25 per hour.

Opponents say the increase could negatively affect workers by forcing businesses to cut jobs, especially for those between the ages of 16 and 24.

"While there are some winners in this, there are unquestionably some losers, too," said Sen. Matt Murphy, a Republican from Palatine.

Lightford said the proposal could see some changes before it's brought to the Senate floor for a vote. She said some groups want to decrease the teenager minimum wage, which is currently set at 50 cents below the minimum wage, and extend back the time when increases are phased in.

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The bill is SB68.

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Online: http://www.ilga.gov

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