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IL Minimum-Wage Increase Efforts Picking up Steam

November 4. 2013

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - An estimated 400,000 minimum-wage workers in Illinois could soon see a boost in pay. A measure recently introduced at the statehouse by Representative Art Turner, House Bill 3718, would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10.65 by 2016.

Retired police officer Charles Brown has been an advocate for the increase because, he said, he's seen how low-income workers in his Englewood neighborhood struggle to make ends meet.

"People can't pay their rent; I have vacant buildings here in my block; it is just devastating, and the people can't even make a decent living," he declared. "They're starving us. They're starving the lower-class and middle-class people."

Brown is among those who have made trips to Springfield to speak to lawmakers about the need to raise the minimum wage. He said he believes that would pull many workers out of poverty.

This measure joins Senate Bill 68, which would raise the minimum wage to at least $10.

The current minimum wage comes to slightly more than $17,000 a year, and Brown said it has lost pace with the cost of living, that families are falling behind trying to afford basic necessities.

"The government has to step in still and promote different rescue projects that helps pay your rent, that helps pay some of your light bill or your gas bill," he said. "These kind of things you wouldn't need if the minimum wage was to be prompted up."

Brown added that the higher wage would benefit the community as a whole. According to Raise Illinois, a coalition of groups supporting the minimum-wage increase, a $10.65 per hour minimum wage would provide a $2.5 billion boost to Illinois' economy.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL