Sen. Kimberly Lightford Revives Minimum Wage Debate in Illinois Senate

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Ian Watts (217) 782 0571 || iwatts@senatedem.ilga.gov

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lightford revives minimum wage debate in Illinois Senate

“If you work 40 hours – or more – per week, you should be able to keep a roof over your head and food on the table without government assistance. The minimum wage needs to be a living wage.” 

-State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) has renewed her call for a higher minimum wage. Bolstered by support from President Barack Obama and Governor Pat Quinn, Lightford shepherded her plan through a Senate committee earlier today.

If you work 40 hours – or more – per week, you should be able to keep a roof over your head and food on the table without government assistance,” Lightford said. “The minimum wage needs to be a living wage.”

Lightford’s plan, Senate Bill 68, would make Illinois’ minimum wage the highest in the nation – $10.65 per hour. The increase would be phased in over a three year period to give employers time to adjust. Illinois’s current minimum wage is $8.35 per hour, which equals roughly $16,500 per year for a full-time worker. Lightford’s proposal would bring that number up to approximately $21,000 per year – nearly double the federal poverty level for a one-person household.

Lightford’s plan is more aggressive than both the president’s and the governor’s. Earlier this year, Obama raised the minimum wage for federal employees to $10.10 per hour, while Quinn has called for an increase to $10.00 per hour.

“Right now, you can’t support yourself, let alone a child, on minimum wage,” Lightford said.  “For $10.65 an hour, it would be hard, but you could.”

Contrary to common perception, the majority of people paid the minimum wage are not teenagers — 84.2% of minimum wage earners are adults over the age of 20.  And although minorities are overrepresented at 41.3% of minimum wage earners, the majority of people trying to survive on the minimum wage are white.

“People come to me and say this is a Chicago issue or that raising the minimum wage will drive businesses out of this state,” Lightford said. “It isn’t, and it won’t.” VFP

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