Illinois Raises Minimum Wage; A Hard Look At The Budget; Measles Outbreaks; Recycling Batteries

February 19, 2019
 

In this Sept. 14, 2014, file photo, protesters participate in a rally on Chicago's south side. On Feb. 19, 2019, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill into law that raises the hourly minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.

AP/M. Spencer Green

On the 21st: Illinois is set to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 throughout the entire state. Plus, as Gov. Pritzker gets ready to deliver his first budget address, we'll talk with the Civic Federation's Laurence Msall about what Illinois needs to get its finances in order. And, the CDC says there have been more than 120 cases of measles in the U.S. since the start of 2019—and in recent days, four have been confirmed in Champaign-Urbana. Finally, we'll hear about a new battery recycling program out of Argonne National Laboratory.

Raising The Minimum Wage

Years of advocacy, strikes and rallies for a higher minimum wage have paid off for supporters across the state.Last week, the Illinois House passed a measure to increase the state minimum wage from $8.25 to $15 an hour by 2025. And this morning, Governor JB Pritzker signed the bill into law. This makes Illinois the first state in the Midwest and the fifth nationally to have a $15 minimum wage.

Nationwide calls to raise the minimum wage also haven’t gone unheard - Democrats in Congress have introduced a bill that would establish a $15 federal minimum wage.

Advocates here in Illinois say the increase will help ease the burden on working families while critics are wary of the impact it might have on businesses.  We spoke with Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, along with Wendy Pollack with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. NPR Illinois reporter Daisy Contreras joined us as well.

What The State Budget Really Needs, According To The Civic Federation

Tomorrow at noon, Governor JB Pritzker is scheduled to deliver his first budget address. What new this year is that Democrats control every statewide office and command supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature.

But what hasn’t changed is that our state is billions of dollars in the hole. To fix this, the independent, nonpartisan Civic Federation has been advocating for some big changes - whether it’s taxing retirement income, changing pension benefits, and limiting public spending.

Laurence Msall is the Civic Federation’s president and he joined us to explain what he would like to hear the governor say tomorrow.

Four Cases Of Measles In Illinois

Many people around the world are dying of a preventable disease: measles. About 130 people in the Philippines, and more than 900 in Madagascar have died in recent outbreaks.

We’re also having outbreaks here in the United States. Nobody has died, but the CDC says there have been about 130 cases since the beginning of 2019. Washington state has declared a state of emergency and lawmakers are urging people to make sure their children get the measles vaccine.

And now, there have been four cases in Illinois this year, all in Champaign-Urbana. The C-U Public Health District said Sunday the patients are no longer in the infectious stage, but it is unclear if anyone else has been exposed.

All of this is happening even though the measles vaccine is available and effective at preventing this disease.

Dr. David Chan, medical director of pediatrics for Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, joined us on the program.

Recycling Batteries At Argonne National Lab

In recent years more people have been using lithium-ion batteries. You’re probably closer to a lithium battery than might realize. Just check your pocket for your phone. But until last week, the vast majority of lithium batteries had to be sent outside of the U.S. to be recycled.

Now, the U.S. Department of Energy has launched ‘ReCell.’ It’s the first lithium-ion battery recycling center and it’s based right here in Illinois at Argonne National Laboratory.  That means not just reusing materials for batteries for phones - but even electric cars.

We spoke with Jeff Spangenberger, Director of the new ReCell Center at Argonne.