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Illinois Senate passes $15 minimum wage bill, moves to House

The Illinois legislature has made another step forward towards raising the state’s minimum wage.

The Illinois Senate gave the green light on Thursday to increase the minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $15 an hour. Under this proposal, the minimum wage would gradually increase to $15 an hour by the year 2025.

The YMCA of West Central Illinois CEO Jim Chamberlain says nearly ever staff member at the YMCA makes under $15 an hour. If the minimum wage proposal passes, it’s going to make a big impact.

“Everyone deserves a fair pair for a fair days work but at the same time on the business side, those costs have to be accounted for,” said Chamberlain.

Chamberlain says an increase to the state’s minimum wage isn’t just about a dollar figure. It could also mean changes to the YMCA’s daily operations.

“Are we going to have to increase our costs for some of our programs or what do we do from a staffing standpoint?” said Chamberlain. “Will we be able to keep all of our staff that we have here? That could affect our programming as well.”

Fallon Woodmansee has worked at the YMCA for the past year. She’s making $9.10 an hour right now and supporting four children as a single mother.

For Woodmansee, making $15 an hour wouldn’t necessarily make things easier.

“I work 30 hours a week,” said Woodmansee. “I still get government assistance. I still get a LINK card. My daughter is on social security because she has an immune deficiency so if I was currently making $15 an hour, I would not get food stamps. I would not get social security.”

For those just getting out of high school like Pops Pizza worker Mason Wells, $15 an hour sounds pretty good.

“I think it would just make so much stuff easier,” said Wells. “I think working here in general would be a lot more fun if I can make $15 an hour.”

The proposal would increase the $8.25 an hour minimum wage by $1.75 next year and $1 more on each January first until 2025. If the House approves it next week, Governor Pritzker could sign it into law before delivering his first budget proposal on February 20.

Kaylee Pfeiferling

Multimedia Journalist

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