SPRINGFIELD | In a sign Democrats are sticking to their 2014 election playbook, House Speaker Michael Madigan signaled Tuesday a minimum wage increase could be on the horizon in Illinois.
With President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn all singing the praises of boosting the minimum wage above $10 per hour, Madigan — who is chairman of the Democratic Party in Illinois — suggested it might have the juice to move through the General Assembly's lower chamber this spring.
“There’s strong support for the minimum wage in the House," Madigan told reporters. "I think that it’s a matter of fairness, it’s a matter of equity."
Illinois' $8.25 an hour minimum wage is currently $1 more than the federal rate. Legislation to raise it above $10 an hour has already moved through a Senate committee.
Quinn and Durbin spent time promoting the increase in Chicago on Monday. On Tuesday, state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, and a handful of union officials attended a similar promotion in the capital city.
Opponents include business owners who say they will have to cut hiring or raise prices to accommodate the higher labor cost. Universities, which employ thousands of students, said the increase could trigger tuition hikes or result in them offering fewer employment opportunities.
Madigan dismissed the criticism.
"I think you’ll find the opposition to raising the minimum wage comes from people that have done pretty well in America, and for some strange reason they don’t want others in America to participate in prosperity," he said.
Asked if he was referring to Bruce Rauner, the wealthy Republican nominee for governor, Madigan quipped, “Who?”
Quinn has called for the increase to be phased in over two years.