Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed a measure gradually hiking the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, the highest in the Midwest.
It was one of the new Democratic governor’s top campaign promises. He signed the six-year plan Tuesday at the Governor’s Mansion.
“For nine long years, there were many forces that were arrayed against giving a raise to the people who work so hard to provide home care for seniors, child care for toddlers, who wash dishes at the diner, and who farm our fields,” Pritzker said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Today is a victory for the cause of economic justice.”
Illinois is on track to be the first state in the Midwest to push its base wage to $15. The pay jump increases from $8.25 by $1 on Jan. 1, and jumps to $10 on July 1, 2020. Then, it increases $1 each Jan. 1 until 2025.
Currently there are an estimated 1.4 million Illinois residents making less than $15 an hour.
Business groups opposed the plan. They wanted a longer phase-in and a regionalized approach with lower minimum wage levels for areas outside Chicago.
Pritzker noted there are payroll tax credits in the law to ease the transition for employers.
The move is also opposed by the state’s Republican Party, which on Tuesday called the minimum wage signing “only the beginning of J.B. Pritzker’s war on taxpayers and small business.”
“This is only the beginning of J.B. Pritzker’s war on taxpayers and small business,” Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider said in a statement. “Nearly doubling the minimum wage will destroy entry-level jobs, raise prices for consumers, and bust budgets at every level of government. Pritzker pledged to govern differently and listen to all parties and stakeholders, but those turned out to meaningless words.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.