Minimum wage debate resurfaces in Illinois

May 17, 2012

Senate plan would eventually raise the state wage to $10.55. Critics say the plan would put a squeeze on business owners.

Democratic Senator Kim Lightford of Maywood is behind the plan to raise Illinois' minimum wage. She says lawmakers have tried to improve the state's business climate, and that now is the time to help out workers. She cautions the plan still might need some tweaking. 

Business owners, like Kelly Wingard, say they can't absorb any additional costs without passing the increases on to customers.

"We already face pressures from the increasing costs of coffee, chocolate, sugar, packaging, electricity, delivery fees, insurance, advertising and on and on."

But supporters of the plan say a minimum wage hike would increase families' buying power, and that would help the state's economy. Lightford's plan would raise the state's rate 50 cents a year until it reaches the desired level. At that point, it would stay indexed to inflation.

Illinois' current minimum wage of $8.25 is a dollar higher than the federal minimum.