Obama, Quinn propose minimum wage raises at federal, state level

Molly Forrest, sophomore in media, makes the minimum wage of $8.25 per hour working as an I-Star, or campus tour guide, to cover her expenses while at the University.

But, if Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal to raise minimum wage to $10 per hour passes, as introduced in his State of the State address Feb. 6, covering these expenses would be easier for Forrest and other students and residents like her in Champaign-Urbana.  

“Nobody in Illinois should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty,” Quinn said in his address. “That’s a principle as old as the Bible. That’s why, over the next 4 years, we must raise the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour.” 

Quinn commended Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-4, for sponsoring Senate Bill 37, which provided that minimum wage for employees 18 years or older be adjusted for inflation each year by the Illinois Department of Labor. Legislative session for the bill ended in 2007.

President Barack Obama also called for a federal raise in minimum wage to $9 per hour in his State of the Union address Tuesday.

“A full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year,” Obama said in his address. “Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line ... In the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.”

Forrest said she recognizes both the positive and negative effects of a minimum wage raise on the federal and state level.

“Who wouldn’t mind making more money?” Forrest said. “But ultimately, Illinois doesn’t have the money to pay these additional expenses.”

Forrest said if her job was more challenging, she would be in favor of the raise.

“The work I do is by no means back-breaking,” Forrest said. “If I was doing manual labor I would want more, but for what I do, the pay suffices.”

Other students, like Chelsey Lange, sophomore in AHS, feel a raise in minimum wage would only hurt employers and the economy.

“I feel that by raising minimum wage they are trying to raise tax wages in the future and overall expenses as well,” she said.

Lange works part-time at Franklin Middle School in Champaign and Tap In Leadership Academy in Champaign, a tutoring and mentoring nonprofit organization.

While both jobs pay minimum wage, Lange said the paycheck is enough to cover her expenses.

“I feel like I am paid an adequate amount for what I do,” she said. “It’s enough to get me through my everyday expenses.”

Chrissy can be reached at capawlo2@dailyillini.com.