Business Prepares to Battle Over Minimum Wage

Governor Pat Quinn called for a hike in the minimum wage in his State of the State address Wednesday. Business groups are already preparing for a fight, but as Brian Mackey reports, there might be room for compromise.

Quinn wants the minimum wage to be $10 an hour, up from its current $8.25.

QUINN: “Nobody in Illinois should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty. That’s a principle as old as the Bible.”

But business groups say Illinois already has the fourth highest minimum wage in the country and an unemployment rate that’s too high. Todd Maisch is with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

MAISCH: “It just really undermines confidence, which has a direct impact on business’ willingness to invest and create new jobs.”

The sponsor of the wage hike, Democratic Senator Kim Lightford, from Maywood, says she’s been meeting with business groups since last spring. She says she hopes to address some of their concerns, like a provision in current law that allows teenagers to be paid less.

LIGHTFORD: “They pay 16- to 18-year-olds $0.50 less than minimum wage. And they’d like to keep that, which isn’t a good idea, but I’m open.”

Lightford says she also wants to look at a provision that allows restaurants to pay employees 60 cents on the dollar, with the idea that tips make up the difference.

— Brian Mackey

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