While legislation to lift the state's minimum wage has been pending in the legislature for some time now, Chicago Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) said he and his fellow Progressive Reform Coalition council members are working to drum up support for a $15 minimum wage in the city.
At a minimum wage forum Thursday night hosted by Action Now’s “Faith in Action” coalition in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood, Sawyer said the council's progressive caucus is looking to put forward a $15 minimum wage ordinance, though the details are still in the works.
The first step, Sawyer said, is to get more aldermen and residents involved in the discussion.
"I think (raising the minimum wage is) a basic level of respect to your constituents that are working out here hard," he told Progress Illinois. "I was at one function where a young lady worked 10 years at McDonald's and she talked about how she can't even afford the food to eat where she works. So it's frustrating, and we need to get these wages to a level where they are respectable to the citizens."
The philanthropic and non-profit community in Illinois is bracing itself for what is expected to be a "painful" budgetary year.
"It's going to be tough," said Valerie Lies, president and CEO of the Donors Forum, a member association working to strengthen the state's philanthropic and non-profit sector. "I feel like we haven't even started to dig ourselves out, and I think [this] gubernatorial election will be an important one."
With the media and public spotlight on Chicago's pension crisis, the non-partisan research center Good Jobs First is turning the attention to the city's controversial tax increment financing, or TIF, program.
"It's really hard to ignore the evidence that TIF has had some sort of impact on pensions," said Tommy Cafcas, research analyst at Good Jobs First, which works to promote corporate and government accountability.
"We know that TIF costs grew, and they started growing really quickly after 2000. We know that general fund revenues declined ... and we know that the city addressed its budget gap in part by making inadequate contributions to public pensions, so it seems reasonable that TIF plays a role in how the city thinks about addressing the pension issue."