The independent news organization of Duke University

Duke Trustee, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs bill to hike state's minimum wage to $15 by 2025

Trustee J.B. Pritzker, Trinity ‘87 and governor of Illinois, recently signed a bill that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour in the next six years. 

The law will nearly double Illinois’ minimum wage from the current minimum rate—which is $8.25 per hour. Pritzker, who has served on Duke's Board of Trustees since 2017, said in a statement that the move will boost pay for 1.4 million residents.

“Phasing in the minimum wage over the next six years will put $6,300 a year into the pockets of nearly a quarter of our state's workforce and billions of dollars into local economies in every corner of our state,” he said in the statement. “Whether you're a home healthcare provider in McLeansboro or a janitor in Rockford, hardworking men and women across Illinois deserve a raise and will get one.”

The Illinois House of Representatives passed the bill by a 69-47-1 vote Feb. 14 after the Illinois Senate approved it Feb. 7, which left Pritzker’s signature as the only barrier for the bill to become law. 

The new legislation marked a policy accomplishment for Pritzker, who touted the idea during his campaign and took office in January as the current wealthiest politician in the nation. Pritzker’s net worth of $3.2 billion is the second-highest ever for a politician, behind only former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 

Pritzker told The Chronicle in January that he has tried to be philanthropic and advance policy as a businessman. 

“[My goal is to] do good wherever I can with any resources that I had—and I think I have done that,” he said.

Pritzker is an heir to the Hyatt fortune—the hotel company was founded by his uncle Jay Pritzker and developed by his father, Donald. The Duke alumnus has invested in many technology companies, including SpaceX, and owns many manufacturing and industrial companies. 

“I’m a businessman for my whole career,” Pritzker told The Chronicle in January. “I’m an attorney also but I don’t practice law. It’s just my degree and background. I’m a businessman who has built my own business and am very involved in building the technology community here in Illinois.”

He made headlines in October when he said that he would pay back more than $330,000 in taxes after being accused of removing toilets from one of his mansions for tax breaks. A report found he took toilets out of the home so that it could be classified as "uninhabitable," which would help him save on taxes—a "scheme to defraud." 

Pritzker told The Chronicle in January that at the time, the house was being renovated, so "a lot of things were being removed from that home in the process.”