Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bruce Rauner has proposed reducing the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 to $7.25. Rauner made the statement last month during a candidates’ forum in the Quad Cities and again on downstate Alton radio station WGBZ-AM.
“I will advocate moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage,” Rauner told the radio station. “I think we’ve got to be competitive here in Illinois.”
On Wednesday, Jan. 8, Rauner denied that he wants to reduce the state minimum wage saying his remarks were “flippant”. “I should have said, ‘Tie the Illinois minimum wage to the national wage and, in that context, with other changes in being pro-business, I support raising the national minimum wage.’ I’m OK with that,” said Rauner.
On Thursday, Jan. 9, a video surfaced that shows Rauner saying “I am adamantly, adamantly against raising the minimum wage. My view is we already have the second highest unemployment in America. We already have an outrageously high unemployment rate among low-income, poor minority kids in Chicago, in Rockford, in Peoria and East St. Louis. And raising the minimum wage is just going to blow them out and take away their jobs. We cannot do this.”
Rauner is running in a four-way Republican primary on March 18. The three other Republican candidates, Republican state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, State Sen. Bill Brady, (R-Bloomington) and State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), have all said they oppose raising the state minimum wage. None of them have proposed reducing the current wage.
Governor Pat Quinn, who is seeking re-election, has proposed raising Illinois’ minimum wage to $10.