The idea would raise the state's minimum wage for workers 26 and older from the current $8.25 to $9.00 in 2015 and 50 cents per hour higher in 2016 and again in 2017. It would also prohibit local municipalities from raising the wage over the state's minimum wage level.
“As a long-time business owner, I have seen first-hand the impact of across-the-board minimum wage increases. As a lawmaker, I know how divisive this issue is, both across party lines and within party caucuses,” Oberweis said. “I am offering a compromise.”
Oberweis' idea came out after his opponent in the U.S. Senate race Dick Durbin appeared on a bus tour promoting a national minimum wage hike. Illinois' minimum wage is already higher than the federal level. The tour was part of a national effort by Democrats to put Republicans on the defense as Democrats try to preserve their majority in the U.S. Senate.
Oberweis says by increasing the minimum wage for adult workers in steps over three years, Senate Bill 2004 will help working families, but should not kill jobs.
“The reactions to my amendment so far are mixed. Some are concerned. Some acknowledge that this is a workable compromise,” he said. “I will be working with business leaders and with lawmakers from both sides of aisle to make a minimum-wage increase possible without the very real economic harm that other minimum-wage proposals could cause.”