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Minimum wage debate
Wed February 26, 2014
Ralliers Demand Minimum Wage Bump
The battle over raising the minimum wage got lot louder on Wednesday. Several hundred minimum wage workers and union members rallied in the Capitol.
A coalition of unions and activist groups lobbied lawmakers and shared their stories of life on minimum wage.
Rachel Bittenbender is 25 and earning $8.25 an hour. She works just shy of full-time at a fast food restaurant in Dixon, near Rockford.
"After I pay my bills? That's about it," she said. "I have a little bit aside to help with some groceries...and then get my car with some gas if I need it for that week."
If the minimum wage were to be raised, Bittenbender says she'd go back to school — she wants to become an English professor someday. She's been working full-time for minimum wage since she dropped out of school to take care of her ailing mother.
Democrats like Sen. Kim Lightford (D-Maywood) have been pushing to raise the state minimum to at least 10 dollars an hour. Lightford cheered on the ralliers.
"We're not asking for a handout, we work," she said. "And we deserve to be paid a living, fair wage."
Republicans and business groups counter that raising the wage would hurt small business and drive unemployment.