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Report: Higher Minimum Wage Would Help One-in-Five Illinois Kids

PHOTO: A report from Voices for Illinois Children finds one-in-five children would benefit from a higher minimum wage. Photo credit: Kristine Kiskey/morguefile.
PHOTO: A report from Voices for Illinois Children finds one-in-five children would benefit from a higher minimum wage. Photo credit: Kristine Kiskey/morguefile.
October 30, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – As candidates spar over raising the minimum wage, a question on Tuesday's ballot will take the pulse of where Illinoisans stand on the issue.

A recent report from the child advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children highlights the benefits of raising the wage from $8.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.

Emily Miller, the group's policy advocacy director, says her organization found the higher wage would help one-in-five children by boosting the family incomes of those who struggle to make ends meet.

"They're having to make choices about food, whether to pay the rent, whether to fix the car,” she stresses. “Families who work full time should be able to make enough money to have to worry about if they're going to be able to afford their child's prescriptions. "

Miller points out at the current minimum wage, a family with two parents working full time, cannot afford basic necessities for themselves and one child, falling more than $3,200 short a year.

The advisory question on the ballot asks voters if they support increasing the hourly minimum wage to $10 by Jan. 1.

Opponents argue a higher minimum wage would cost jobs and hurt businesses.

Miller counters that there is very little evidence to support the claim. And she adds it would help spur the economy as minimum wage workers spend money in their communities.

"They don't put it away, you know, in off-shore bank accounts,” she maintains. “They spend it.

“They spend it at local retailers for every day household needs and that's money that gets put back into local economies. It's really valuable."

Miller adds she hopes voters will turn out to weigh-in on the referendum on Tuesday's ballot, so state leaders see just how many people support raising the minimum wage.

"I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure that lawmakers get what's at stake here,” she states. “Working families have to stand together and show up at the polls. We have to make it clear that this is a priority for Illinois."

Illinois' current minimum wage was last raised four years ago, and Miller says its value continues to diminish as the cost of living rises.

She says it needs to be raised annually, or allowed to increase automatically with inflation.

Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL