Will Quinn Campaign Get Minimum Wage Increase Back on Track?

This could be an uphill battle, however, due to two statistics: Illinois already has the highest minimum wage in the region and unemployment is 9.2 percent -- second highest in the nation.
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NEW PUSH FOR MINIMUM WAGE At the start of the 2013 spring legislative session, there was lots of talk about raising Illinois' minimum wage. Specifically, a bill in the Senate proposed a series of bumps that would raise the minimum wage in Illinois from its current $8.25 (where it's been since 2010) to $10 an hour. But as the session became focused on contentious issues like pension reform, concealed carry and same-sex marriage, the minimum wage effort got pushed off the table. But with the 2014 Democratic primary race now in full swing, this issue may find new life courtesy of Gov. Pat Quinn, who last week told state Democratic party leaders in a speech that he was determined to raise the minimum wage. This could be an uphill battle, however, due to two statistics: Illinois already has the highest minimum wage in the region and unemployment is 9.2 percent -- second highest in the nation. The last time Illinois passed a minimum wage bill, in 2006, unemployment was 4.1 percent. How times have changed. Read more and see highlights from Quinn's speech here.
WHERE WE STAND As mentioned above, Illinois has the highest minimum wage among all our neighboring states. Check out our infographic to see how Illinois compares to its neighbors and to view a timeline of the recent history of Illinois' minimum wage.
THE OPPOSITION The head of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, whose members employ a lot of minimum wage employees, says the effort to raise the minimum wage is misguided. It will lead employers to eliminate minimum wage jobs to make up for the extra cost, he says. "Minimum wage increases do not help reduce poverty... While the few employees who earn a wage increase might benefit from a wage hike, those that lose their job are noticeably worse off," writes David Vite. Read the whole thing here.
PENSION DANGER Chicago Sun-Times columnist Eden Martin thinks a pension reform bill backed by unions and passed by the Illinois Senate could create an even bigger pension crisis for future generations. That's because it makes the state the guarantor of the pension funds. There's no such guarantee now that the state will pay its required annual payments, which is one of the ways our public pension system has become a $100 billion crisis. It's a complicated (and, of course, controversial) issue but Martin states his case nicely. Whether you agree or not is another matter. Read it and decide for yourself.
TWEET OF THE DAY This week House Republican Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, announced plans to run for state treasurer and to give up the leadership position he's held since 2003. He's been leader during a tough time, as Democrats have drawn two consecutive legislative maps and elected veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate. Cross' successor will have quite a challenge making the party relevant again, especially if Democrats keep the governorship in 2014. Chicago Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney summarizes the Republicans' hard luck in this tweet:

FAIR AND INDEPENDENT Both parties in Illinois have used this state's crazy legislative map-drawing system to their advantage over the years. In the '90s, it was the Republicans, who won the right to draw the map through the luck of the draw after the parties could not agree on a map. Since then, it's been the Democrats, because they control both chambers of the legislature and hold the governor's office. Neither party should be allowed to play this game of incumbent protection. Help us put a stop to it. Find out how you can help the Yes for Independent Maps movement collect the hundreds of thousands of signatures it will take to establish a non-political commission to create legislative districts designed to ensure proper voter representation -- not incumbent protection.
TOP 5 Here are links to 5 key Illinois news and opinion items you should check out today. You'll find links to and summaries of many more in the Daily Tip-Off section of our website.
•5. Without a pension fix, the fiscal health of the Chicago Public Schools will continue to deteriorate. (Reuters)
4. Opinion: As grilling season winds down, politicians are grilling the taxpayers. (Chicago Tribune)
3. Activists who claim the Chicago Public Schools are against minorities are calling for a one-day boycott. (Chicago Tribune)
2. Chicago's job growth rose in July, but so did the unemployment rate. (Chicago Tribune)
1. Despite criticism, Mayor Emanuel says the city's Safe Passage routes will work for this school year. (ABC7)

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