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SPRINGFIELD — In one of his final acts as governor, Democrat Pat Quinn could make one last push to raise Illinois' minimum wage.

Although his aides remain tight-lipped about the prospect Monday, the outgoing governor could use his waning authority to call on lawmakers to act on the minimum wage when members of the House and Senate return Thursday for a special legislative session.

That doesn't mean lawmakers actually will listen to Quinn, who leaves office Monday morning.

For now, the official line from the governor on the minimum wage has been a statement issued after the House left town a month ago without picking up a plan by the Senate to boost the minimum wage to $11 by 2019.

"We will continue working with the members of the House of Representatives to raise the wage, which will be good for the economy and for workers," Quinn's office said.

At the time, House Speaker Michael Madigan said he had no plans to bring the House back for a lame duck session, but that was before the unexpected death of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka triggered a call for a special session to deal with her replacement.

Against the backdrop of the debate over Topinka, Quinn could ask the Legislature to give him one last parting gift before Republican newcomer Bruce Rauner takes over as the state's chief executive on Jan. 12.

Since beating Quinn in November, Rauner has repeatedly asked lawmakers to wait until he is formally sworn into office to take up major issues like the minimum wage.

It is unclear if Quinn believes he now has the votes in the House to move forward on a minimum wage boost. Some Democrats who represent Chicago balked at raising the state's wage to $11 an hour after the Chicago City Council voted to raise the city's minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2019.

Rank-and-file lawmakers say they haven't heard any conclusive plan for a debate on the minimum wage.

"We had plenty of opportunities to call the minimum wage for a vote in the fall veto session. The only thing I've been talked to about in recent days is the comptroller vacancy," said state Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, who supports a wage hike.

The plan approved in the Senate would increase the current $8.25 an hour wage to $9 an hour in July and then incrementally increase the rate to $11 for workers 18 and older by 2019.


Public Safety Reporter

Public safety reporter for The Pantagraph.

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