Governor Bruce Rauner’s decision to veto a bill designed to close the gender wage gap is sparking new debate. The bill would have prevented employers from asking candidates about their previous salaries.
“I think we ought to do more for the females and I think we ought to stick together to get it done.”

With bipartisan support, lawmakers tried to do just that. They passed legislation preventing employers from learning a candidate’s salary history. The move was aimed at closing the gender wage gap.  But, Governor Rauner’s veto is sending them back to the drawing board.

“It’s absurd. It’s obscene. It’s a really awful move by him.”  The bill’s sponsor, Senator Daniel Biss (D), who is running for the governor’s seat, says he’s floored.  “This is a sensible approach.”

Now he and others want to override the governor’s decision.  “I would enthusiastically support that.”

In Rauner’s veto message, he says he supports wage equality, but he wants the state to better mirror a plan passed in Massachusetts. That version allows employers to see a candidate’s previous salary after a job offer is made.

“We thought their approach was pretty reasonable and a good compromise, but it was rejected.”  Todd Maisch, of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce says they support Rauner’s veto. He says the bill left businesses vulnerable to lawsuits and took away factors for decision making.  “It does allow you to go see what the marketplace is really paying for this … If you’re asking for this at the front, or if they’re hired, there’s still potential after they’re hired to have continuing problems.”

Donna Rogers studies wage disparities at UIS. She says she sees it both ways, however, she believes the only way to solve the gender wage gap is by taking salaries off the negotiation table altogether.  “I think it’s limiting negotiations and also doing a wage gap study within your own employment.”

According to labor statistics, women make 89-cents to every dollar a man makes. The gap has shrunk drastically in recent decades, but advocates say it’s time to close it.

The bill’s advocates say it’s unclear if they’ll have enough votes to override Rauner’s veto. The issue will be taken up when lawmakers return this fall.