NEW PUSH FOR MINIMUM
WAGE At the start of the 2013 spring
legislative session, there was lots of talk about raising Illinois' minimum
wage. Specifically, a bill in the Senate proposed a series of bumps that would
raise the minimum wage in Illinois from its current $8.25 (where it's been
since 2010) to $10 an hour. But as the session became focused on contentious
issues like pension reform, concealed carry and same-sex marriage, the minimum
wage effort got pushed off the table. But with the 2014 Democratic primary race
now in full swing, this issue may find new life courtesy of Gov. Pat Quinn, who
last week told state Democratic party leaders in a speech that he was
determined to raise the minimum wage. This could be an uphill battle, however,
due to two statistics: Illinois already has the highest minimum wage in the
region and unemployment is 9.2 percent -- second highest in the nation. The
last time Illinois passed a minimum wage bill, in 2006, unemployment was 4.1
percent. How times have changed. Read more and see highlights from
Quinn's speech here.
WHERE WE STAND As mentioned above, Illinois has the highest minimum wage among
all our neighboring states. Check out our infographic
to see how Illinois compares to its neighbors and to view a timeline of the
recent history of Illinois' minimum wage.
THE OPPOSITION The head of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, whose
members employ a lot of minimum wage employees, says the effort to raise the
minimum wage is misguided. It will lead employers to eliminate minimum wage
jobs to make up for the extra cost, he says. "Minimum wage increases do
not help reduce poverty... While the few employees who earn a wage increase
might benefit from a wage hike, those that lose their job are noticeably worse
off," writes David Vite. Read the whole thing here.
PENSION DANGER Chicago Sun-Times columnist Eden Martin thinks a pension reform bill backed by unions and passed by the Illinois Senate could create an even bigger pension crisis for future generations. That's because it makes the state the guarantor of the pension funds. There's no such guarantee now that the state will pay its required annual payments, which is one of the ways our public pension system has become a $100 billion crisis. It's a complicated (and, of course, controversial) issue but Martin states his case nicely. Whether you agree or not is another matter. Read it and decide for yourself.
FAIR AND INDEPENDENT Both parties in Illinois have used this state's crazy
legislative map-drawing system to their advantage over the years. In the '90s,
it was the Republicans, who won the right to draw the map through the luck of
the draw after the parties could not agree on a map. Since then, it's been the
Democrats, because they control both chambers of the legislature and hold the
governor's office. Neither party should be allowed to play this game of
incumbent protection. Help us put a stop to it. Find out how you can help the Yes
for Independent Maps movement collect the hundreds of thousands of
signatures it will take to establish a non-political commission to create
legislative districts designed to ensure proper voter representation --
not incumbent protection.
TOP 5 Here are links to 5 key Illinois news and opinion items you should check out today. You'll find links to and summaries of many more in the Daily Tip-Off section of our website.
- 5. Without a pension fix, the
fiscal health of the Chicago Public Schools will continue to deteriorate.
4. Opinion: As grilling season winds down, politicians are grilling the taxpayers. (Chicago Tribune)
3. Activists who claim the Chicago Public Schools are against minorities are calling for a one-day boycott. (Chicago Tribune)
2. Chicago’s job growth rose in July, but so did the unemployment rate. (Chicago Tribune)
1. Despite criticism, Mayor Emanuel says the city’s Safe Passage routes will work for this school year. (ABC7)