By Jim Hagerty
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) plans to continue his push to raise Illinois’ minimum wage in his bid for another term.
Quinn, who is seeking his second full term, wants to raise the minimum wage of $8.25 to a least $10 by year’s end.
Meanwhile, the four candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the March primary are preparing to buck the measure, citing its potential to chloroform the job market.
The Republicans are backed by a group of businesses that believe an increase in minimum wage will take a dangerous toll on payroll expenses, forcing thousands of companies to cut jobs or refrain from making new hires altogether.
Illinois Sens. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, and Kirk, Dillard, R-Burr Ridge, along with Illinois Comptroller Dan Rutherford, have been vocal in their fight against the increase.
Rutherford calls a minimum wage hike an unfair “artificial cost of doing business increase,” that, like decreasing the rate, takes money out of the workforce. Dillard is pushing to give the power to raise minimum wage to the marketplace, even though he voted to increase it in 2006.
Winnetka billionaire Bruce Rauner wants Illinois to scale the rate back to $7.25 per hour to match the national mark. He also ripped Quinn, calling the governor’s efforts “horrible.”
“Quinn is failing working families and low-income families in this state,” Rauner told the Chicago Sun-Times over the weekend. “He’s been a massive failure. We have brutal unemployment. We have jobs leaving the state. We are de-funding our schools, cutting school funding, and we’re shredding the social-services safety net. All the stuff that Quinn supposedly says he cares about, he is failing.”
Brady, a staunch conservative, said there’s problems with increasing the rate and slashing it.
“If we raise the rate, we discourage job growth,” Brady said. “If we cut it, we impact hard-working Illinois families who depend on a minimum wage as better jobs continue to leave Illinois.”
Quinn, however, says he isn’t shaken by his opponents and holds onto his belief that raising minimum wage is popular with voters, most notably the more than 1 million Illinois workers making $8.25 per hour now, because it’s the right thing to do.
“The question is, people are making $8.25 an hour in Illinois,” Quinn said in a published report. “That’s not enough in my book.” To have a Republican candidate running around saying it’s too much for tough jobs, I think they really ought to examine their conscience.”
Those making $8.25 per hour in Illinois are paid around $17,000 annually.
Minimum wage, concealed-carry legislation and the $100 billion pension reform bill are expected to take center stage as Quinn campaigns toward the November election.
Posted Jan. 13, 2014