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Senate Democrats send minimum wage increase to House

By Capitol News Illinois staff

A bill to raise Illinois’ minimum wage passed the state Senate on partisan lines Thursday, Feb. 7, after Gov. J.B. Pritzker made a personal appeal to Democratic lawmakers at a private caucus prior to the vote.

Senate Bill 1 received only Democratic votes as it passed by a 39-18 margin, putting the onus on the Illinois House to get the bill to Pritzker’s desk by his requested deadline of Feb. 20, when he is scheduled to give his budget address.

Interest groups are expected to continue to lobby for changes when the bill is heard in the House – particularly for an amendment to include a regional rollout of the minimum wage for lower rates downstate. But Rep. Will Guzzardi, a Chicago Democrat and SB1’s House sponsor, said as far as he’s concerned, his chamber should approve the current Senate version.

If approved as is, the minimum wage will be phased in over six years, starting with an increase from $8.25 to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2020, before increasing to $10 on July 1, 2020, and $11 on Jan. 1, 2021. After that, it would increase by $1 every year until it hits $15 in 2025.

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BUDGET REPORT: The state of Illinois faces a potential budget deficit of $3.2 billion in the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1, far more than former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration projected late last year.

That’s the conclusion of a report issued Friday, Feb. 8, by newly-elected Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration, who used the findings to continue chastising the man Pritzker defeated in the 2018 election.

The 12-page document, entitled “Digging Out: The Rauner Wreckage Report,” was issued by Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes, a former state comptroller who oversees budget and economic issues for the administration. It lays the blame for most of the state’s fiscal mess on the two-year budget impasse from 2015 to 2017 that resulted in a series of credit downgrades for the state.

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COLLEGE ADMISSIONS STANDARDS: A proposal to automatically admit students to any public college or university in Illinois if they meet certain standards is running into opposition, primarily from the University of Illinois system.

Rep. André Thapedi (D-Chicago) said it’s intended as a form of affirmative action for minority students and other under-represented groups on Illinois college campuses. He specifically pointed to U of I’s Urbana-Champaign campus as a source of concern because of its small proportion of minority student enrollment — 5.2 percent African-American and 9.3 percent Hispanic.

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MEDICAID DATA: Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is backing legislation that would require insurance companies that manage much of the state’s Medicaid program to publish more information about how promptly they are reimbursing claims.

The insurance companies, known as managed care organizations, or MCOs, contract with the state to manage the care of individuals enrolled in Medicaid. Among other things, that involves working with patients to make sure they receive routine exams and preventive care, and coordinating services provided by their primary physicians and other specialists.

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RENT CONTROLS: A Chicago Democrat is calling for local governments to again have the authority to implement rent control measures.

Twenty-two years after the state passed the Rent Control Preemption Act, Rep. Will Guzzardi wants to repeal it. His legislation, just seven words long, is a “very, very simple” means for municipalities to target housing affordability issues.

Families in neighborhoods in the Windy City, including Logan Square in Guzzardi’s district as well as Bronzeville and others, are being displaced, the representative said. Developers and “unscrupulous” landlords purchase buildings with existing tenants, raise the rent dramatically and price out residents.

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MINIMUM WAGE FOR TEACHERS: The minimum wage for Illinois teachers has been stagnant for nearly 40 years, but a bill which passed the state Senate’s education committee Tuesday, Feb. 5, would give it a big bump.

The bill would raise the minimum wage to $40,000 annually by the 2023-2024 school year, with a phase-in period of four years beginning with a $32,076 minimum in the 2020-2021 school year, $34,576 the year after that, and $37,076 in 2022-2023 before it hits the $40,000 mark.

The current minimum has not been updated since 1980, when the minimum wage for teachers ranged from $9,000 to $11,000 depending on education level and semester hours worked.

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PROPERTY TAX CUT PROPOSED: A bill that would slash local property taxes by 10 percent over the next two years has been introduced in the Illinois House.

State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) introduced that legislation Monday, Feb. 4. After a two-year phase in, it would permanently cap local taxes at that lower level unless local voters approve a tax increase in a referendum.

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Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit news service operated by the Illinois Press Foundation that provides coverage of state government to newspapers throughout Illinois. The mission of Capitol News Illinois is to provide credible and unbiased coverage of state government to the more than 400 daily and weekly newspapers that are members of the Illinois Press Association.

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