A non-binding referendum on raising Illinois' minimum wage to $10 per hour would be on the November ballot under a measure advanced Friday morning by an Illinois House Committee.
The House Labor and Commerce Committee voted 12-7 to send House Speaker Michael Madigan's proposal to the House floor for a vote.
The metro-east's only members of the committee are its chairman, Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, who voted in favor, and Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, who voted in opposition.
Republicans argued that an increase in the state's minimum wage, currently $8.25 an hour, would be costly to employers -- and actually force them to lay off workers.
Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, acknowledged it would cost employers.
"As I said earlier, there will be an increased cost to employers, both public and private," Madigan said.
Kay accused Madigan of not caring about business owners. Madigan said he was "here for workers."
Kay said employers won't be able to compete with businesses in other states.
"I think we put them in peril when you force them to pay a different rate than a company over in Kansas," Kay said.
Hoffman noted that the referendum is non-binding -- only advisory.
"I question what the other side of the aisle is afraid of," Hoffman said. "That the people will speak and say we do need a living wage?"
Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2511.