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Last November, two-thirds of Illinois' voters agreed that if you work full-time, you and your family should not live in poverty. We in the Senate heard the message loud and clear, and in December, we responded, passing the minimum wage increase I co-sponsored. Unfortunately, the House declined to vote on the measure last year, and it died. We have reintroduced the minimum wage increase in the new legislative session, and last Thursday, the Senate reaffirmed our commitment to giving relief to the working poor who have seen costs rise as their pay stagnates. Senate Bill 11 would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 now to $9 starting this July, $10 by 2017 and $11 by 2019. In contrast to the governor's call for a $10 minimum wage by 2022, our legislation will make a real, tangible impact on the lives of working families struggling to escape poverty.

The political realities are different today than they were in December 2014, and the rhetoric has been heated and divisive, but the needs of the working people of Illinois remain the same. During the debate on the Senate floor, I reminded my colleagues that the needs of the working poor and the wishes of the voters we represent ought to guide our consciences and our votes.

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