Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proposed raising the state minimum wage to $10/hr in his State of the State Address. PHOTO: Reuters
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is proposing raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour, from where it currently sits at $8.25. If he gets his wish, Illinois would have the highest minimum wage of any state in the country. Quinn proposed that the minimum wage rise steadily over the next four years. Businesses will surely lobby against the increase, which could make the increase a tough sell, even in Illinois' Democrat-controlled legislature.
Still, that's all the more reason to keep trying, and keep applying pressure to the Illinois legislature. After all, raising the minimum wage is a great idea. Here are the three biggest reasons why:
1. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would already be over $10.
2. A minimum wage of $8.25 produces an annual income of $17,000. The federal poverty line for a household of one is $11,170, $15,310 for a household of two and $19,090 for a household of three. Due to Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, we can adjust those numbers upward a little, so that a household of two with one wage-earner bringing in minimum wage would he around the poverty line, and even a single person wouldn't be much above the poverty line at minimum wage. This makes health issues potentially disastrous, encourages crime, and decreases social mobility for a variety of reasons.
3. Increasing the minimum wage improves the economy. Yes, despite the claims of corporations and their mouthpieces in elected office, one of the fastest and most sensible ways to improve the economy is to increase the minimum wage. Here's why: spending creates jobs, and no one spends a larger portion of their income than the poor. Almost all of that wage increase will recirculate back into the economy, meaning more stuff is getting bought and businesses will hire more.
Governor Quinn also proposed an assault weapons ban, legalizing gay marriage and allowing online voter registration. How much of that will happen before his next election in 2014 is an open question, but if he succeeds with all of those measures, even partially, Quinn could call his time as Illinois Governor a success.