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The City Council on Tuesday approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to boost Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 an hour by mid-2019, while efforts in Springfield to hike the state’s rate and apply some brakes to further city increases fizzled at least until January.
In an overwhelming 44-5 vote steeped in aldermanic and mayoral re-election politics, Emanuel and supportive council members sought to frame their move as a way to lift out of poverty children in thousands of families, many led by single mothers.
“The minimum wage is speaking to making sure that nobody who works raises a child in poverty,” Emanuel said. “The minimum wage…really comes down to making sure that your child does not go to school on an empty stomach (or) making sure that you don’t pick between medicine or school supplies.”
Addressing the council after the vote, Emanuel at times appeared to be delivering a re-election speech. He called the minimum wage only part of his comprehensive economic strategy that includes education, affordable health care and opportunities for people to learn skills to put them on a career path at a well-paying job.
At one point, while boasting that business interest in Chicago remains strong, the mayor went so far to say that the city was tops in gaining foreign investment and corporate relocations and has the No. 1 “Little League team” —...