ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - Governor J.B Pritzker declared it a victory for working families and Democrats and labor groups celebrated as a bill to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour sailed through the Illinois senate Thursday. But even among supporters, questions remain.
If passed, the minimum wage in Illinois would be gradually phased in over the next six years, to reach $15 by 2025. It currently stands at $8.25 an hour.
Michael Glanz, the executive director of the Arc of the Quad Cities Area, which serves people with disabilities, expressed guarded support for the bill. He says about 80 staff members of the Arc make minimum wage.
"We believe the people we serve are valued employees and deserve a fair minimum wage," he says.
But there's a big caveat.
Glanz says the vast majority of the Arc's staff, some 300 direct support professionals throughout the Quad Cities area, are skilled individuals providing vital services to people with disabilities, working in group homes and helping them lead fuller lives. If the minimum wage increases, these skilled workers should be paid above minimum wage, he argues.