Illinois governor to propose minimum wage increase despite state debt concerns

Nicole Lafond Contributor
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Illinoisans making minimum wage may be in for a $1.75 pay increase over the next four years if Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal at today’s State of the State address is considered, reports the Chicago Sun Times.

The Land of Lincoln’s economy is currently in dire straits. S & P Credit Assessment gave Illinois an A- credit rating last week, only slightly above California. The Moody rating system compared Illinois to the African nation of Botswana, placing them on the same risk level, according to a David Frum article published Wednesday in the Daily Beast.

There are several factors- and politicians- behind the financial misfortune in Illinois, Frum notes. The state began the fiscal year $8 billion in debt, and federal assistance has begun to dry up. The costs of retirement benefits are pushing Illinois further behind as it tries to recover from the recession. To compensate, the state is cutting spending allowances for schools, Medicaid and corrections.

Quinn’s proposal is not a new subject for Illinois government. State Sen. Kimberly Lightford proposed a bill similar to this in 2011, and labor officials pushed for a similar minimum wage increase last year.

For a family of three with one child under 18, the national poverty level is $18,480, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This is $1,480 more than the annual salary of a full time worker earning Illinois’ minimum wage.

Quinn would like minimum wage to be $10 an hour by 2017 because he feels that “nobody should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty,” according to an anonymous source quoted in the Sun Times article on the topic.

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