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November Ballot Would Include Minimum Wage Increase Question

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Governor Pat Quinn announced Sunday that he signed legislation that gives voters the chance to make their voices heard on an important issue that would benefit hundreds of thousands of working people across Illinois.

Quinn signed House Bill 3814, which places an advisory question on the November 4 ballot that asks if the state’s minimum wage for those over the age of 18 should be raised to $10 by January 1, 2015.

He first proposed raising the minimum wage during his 2013 "State of the State" address and earlier this year met with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senior administration officials at the White House in Washington, D.C. to discuss raising the minimum wage.

“This November, Illinois voters will have the opportunity to send a clear signal to lawmakers that we must do the right thing for working families across Illinois,” Quinn said. “This is about dignity and decency. Raising the minimum wage will support hardworking men and women across our state and boost local economic growth. As we work to raise the minimum wage in Illinois, this referendum will help us get the job done.”

House Bill 3814, sponsored by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and State Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), adds the question, “Shall the minimum wage in Illinois for adults over the age of 18 be raised to $10 per hour by January 1, 2015?” to the November 4 ballot.

The legislation was supported by human rights organizations, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, local chapters of the SEIU and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

"This referendum will build a strong consensus to lift thousands of Illinois families out of poverty. Governor Quinn is playing an important role in this effort," Speaker Madigan said. “The minimum wage should be a living wage,” Senator Lightford said. “If you work full time, you shouldn’t have to rely on government support to put food on your family’s table or a roof over your head.”

The Illinois minimum wage is currently $8.25, less than half of the average U.S. hourly wage. A full-time minimum wage worker in Illinois makes approximately $17,000 annually, which is well below the Federal Poverty Threshold of $19,790 for a family of three. Six in 10 minimum wage employees are women, including many single parents.

By increasing the Illinois minimum wage to $10 an hour, a half-million Illinois consumers will make an extra $4,800 a year and much of that extra income will typically be spent at local businesses on food, clothing and furniture, providing a strong boost to the local economy.

Studies conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago show that an increase of $1 in the minimum wage generates approximately $3,000 in household spending per year, greatly improving purchasing power and strengthening our economy.

Nearly two-thirds of small business owners support raising the federal minimum wage because they believe it will help the economy and in turn enable them to hire more workers, according to a recent survey conducted by the Small Business Majority.

Leaders from large companies such as Costco, Starbucks, The Gap Inc. and Stride Rite also have supported increasing the minimum wage as a way to reduce employee turnover and improve workers’ productivity. The Gap Inc. recently acted to raise its own minimum wage to $10 for all U.S. employees. The move is expected to impact 65,000 American workers and more than 4,000 employees in Illinois, according to Quinn.

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