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Referendum On Minimum Wage Increase To Appear On Primary Ballots

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roberts250 Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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(CBS) – The minimum wage will be the subject of a referendum question on the March 18 primary ballot in more than 100 Chicago precincts.

The question will ask voters, “Shall the city of Chicago require a minimum wage of $15 per hour for employees of companies that perform work within the city of Chicago where the employing company had annual gross revenues in excess of $50 million in the last tax year?”

Election board spokesman Jim Allen said the 103 precincts are scattered across 20 wards, and represent roughly 5 percent of the city’s 2,069 precincts.

A similar referendum question was put on the ballot in the Seattle, Wash., area. Illinois’ current minimum wage exceeds the federal minimum, but proponents of the increase say families cannot live on wages of $8.25 an hour.

Opponents say they fear that approval of any such increase would drive businesses out of Illinois. Gov. Pat Quinn and President Obama both have urged lawmakers to approve smaller increases in the minimum wage.

The referendum question would be non-binding, as will be all but one of the other questions approved by the Chicago Board of Elections.

Allen said that citywide questions will ask if taxi fares should be increased, if guns should be barred from restaurants and bars and if the city should prohibit the sale of high-volume ammunition clips.

The one binding question will be on the ballot in roughly 90 precincts in the 35th and 46th Wards, where voters in 2012 approved creation of mental health special services district. The March question will ask if the district should be allowed to levy and collect property taxes.

Allen said that if the levy is approved, collections will begin with the second installment of 2013 tax bills, which will be mailed in August.

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