Oberweis backs Illinois minimum wage rise for some

SPRINGFIELD – An Illinois Republican candidate for Congress introduced a proposal to increase the minimum wage for some workers, a plan his Democratic opponent U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says doesn't go far enough.

State Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Republican from Sugar Grove, introduced the measure on Wednesday to gradually raise the minimum wage for workers who are 26 and older. His plan would raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour next year, $9.50 in 2016, and $10 in 2017. The current minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 per hour.

Oberweis, chairman of Chicago area business Oberweis Dairy which sells products such as ice cream at retail outlets, said in a prepared statement said that reactions to his plan are mixed.

"I will be working with business leaders and with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to make a minimum-wage increase possible without the very real economic harm that other minimum-wage proposals could cause," Oberweis said.

Ron Holmes, a spokesman for Durbin, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the plan would leave out many workers.

"The sad reality is that if Sen. Oberweis has his way the folks that are out there on the front lines doing the tough jobs will continue to struggle," Holmes said.

A plan to raise the state's minimum wage to $10.65 per hour by 2016 advanced out of Senate committee last month.