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Minimum wage hike still under review

Minimum wage hike still under review

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SPRINGFIELD - A plan to raise the minimum wage in Illinois continues to face an uncertain future.

Despite the urgings of newly re-elected Gov. Rod Blagojevich, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, is not yet prepared to call the measure for a vote as lawmakers return to action Tuesday for the second week of the fall veto session.

"It's an issue that's under review," Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said Monday. "There are some open questions that have to be answered."

The proposal to increase the state's $6.50 per hour minimum wage to $7.50 an hour was approved in the Senate earlier this month. Someone working 40 hours a week at the higher minimum would earn $15,600 a year instead of $13,520.

A House panel heard lengthy debate on the issue Monday, but took no formal action to move the legislation forward.

One major stumbling block is a provision allowing the minimum wage to rise automatically each year to keep pace with inflation.

Opponents say that could be hard on Illinois business owners who use minimum wage workers for the most unskilled jobs.

"I would characterize it as a major sticking point," said state Rep. Marlow Colvin, D-Chicago, who is chairman of the House Black Caucus.

Brown said Madigan is in no hurry to push the governor's initiative through the House because it wouldn't go into effect until July 1.

"We're eight months away from anybody collecting any money," said Brown.

Even one of the governor's top legislative allies said there may be wiggle room in the proposal.

"If there are some ideas for changing this, I'm willing to look at that," said state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville.

The bill is Senate Bill1275.

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