SPRINGFIELD (CBS) — A group of Illinois Senate Democrats has introduced a proposal that would gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to more than $10 an hour, the highest minimum wage in the nation.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) introduced a proposal on Wednesday to increase the state’s $8.25 minimum wage by 50 cents plus the rate of inflation each year until it reaches that “historic level.”

According to the proposal, the minimum wage would rise every year until it is the same level in today’s dollars that the $1.60 an hour minimum wage was in 1968 — or $10.03 an hour in 2010 dollars.

Four other Senate Democrats have signed on as sponsors.

Opponents say the proposal could drive businesses to move out of state, especially in the wake of a historic income tax hike earlier this year. All five of the states neighboring Illinois have a minimum wage that matches the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

But Lightford said the rights of minimum wage workers also need to be part of the discussion.

“There has rightfully been a lot of discussion lately about how to improve the state’s business climate,” Lightford said in a prepared statement. “But as we go forward, I want to make sure that minimum wage workers aren’t ignored and forgotten.”

Illinois already is tied for the third highest minimum wage in the nation. Only the state of Washington, at $8.67 an hour, and Oregon, at $8.50 an hour, have higher minimum wages. Connecticut and Washington, D.C., also have an $8.25 an hour minimum wage.

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