By Jerry Nowicki
SPRINGFIELD — The minimum wage for Illinois teachers has been stagnant for nearly 40 years, but a bill which passed the state Senate’s education committee Tuesday would give it a big bump.
The bill would raise the minimum wage to $40,000 annually by the 2023-2024 school year, with a phase-in period of four years beginning with a $32,076 minimum in the 2020-2021 school year, $34,576 the year after that, and $37,076 in 2022-2023 before it hits the $40,000 mark.
The current minimum has not been updated since 1980, when the minimum wage for teachers ranged from $9,000 to $11,000 depending on education level and semester hours worked.
The language of the bill is nearly identical to a measure vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner last year after receiving 37 votes in the Senate and 65 in the House.
State Sen. Andy Manar, the bill’s sponsor, said it was necessary to address the state’s teacher shortage.
“The premise of this bill is to get at what I think is a core issue as to why we have large pockets of the state that are facing a critical shortage, almost a crisis, of having teachers available to fill vacant classrooms,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said.
But Sen. Jason Barickman, who along with Manar was a lead negotiator of last session’s school funding overhaul, said the new formula is written to drive more money to needier districts, at which point school boards can decide if increased funding is best used for teacher salaries or elsewhere.