Senate OKs raising minimum wage, sends to House

Rate would jump to $15 per hour by 2025. IFB continues to oppose the bill.

A proposal to increase the state's minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 advanced to the Illinois House for consideration - possibly as soon as next week. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Kay Shipman

On a 39-18 vote Thursday, the Senate passed a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. The bill will now be sent to the Illinois House for consideration.

SB 1, sponsored by Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, would increase hourly minimum wages to $9.25 Jan. 1, 2020, and to $10 July 1, 2020. Thereafter, $1 increments would be added each Jan. 1 until 2025, setting a new minimum wage at $15 an hour.  

“We will continue to oppose the minimum wage proposal as the issue moves to the Illinois House,” said Richard Guebert Jr., Illinois Farm Bureau president, who added that he anticipates the House will vote on SB 1 next week when it returns to session.

During debate on the Senate floor, the bill’s sponsor was questioned why a regional approach with different graduated rates for Chicago and Cook County, the collar counties and the rest of the state was not considered. Gov. J.B. Pritzker and proponents of the increase “made it clear that was not acceptable,” said Kevin Semlow, IFB director of state legislation said.

One reason for the fast approval from the Senate Executive Committee and the Senate is to approve raising the minimum wage before Pritzker delivers his first state budget address at noon Feb. 20.

“Over the past several weeks, IFB has worked with other opponents of the minimum wage,” Semlow said. “We have made several contacts with members of the House, and we will continue to reach out to them asking for a ‘no’ vote on SB 1.” 

In particular, IFB has shared and will continue to share that commodity prices remain low while input costs have increased. For example, the recent corn price of $3.79 per bushel is 6 cents less than the price of 10 years ago.

Meanwhile, input costs for seed, fuel, insurance, labor, equipment maintenance and other expenses increased by 14.6 percent per acre during the past 10 years. Labor costs alone increased 63.6 percent for grain farmers since 2009.

Livestock farmers also would be hit hard by the proposed wage increase.

Semlow pointed to a fall 2018 North Carolina economic study that found small farms are more vulnerable to an increase in the minimum wage, and increases will cause a long-term decline in agriculture employment in remote, rural counties.