How Bruce Rauner Would Block a Minimum Wage Hike in Illinois

The Republican gubernatorial candidate firms his pro-business position on the hot topic

Bruce Rauner doubled down on his stance against a minimum wage hike in Illinois.

Making the media rounds Wednesday, the Republican gubernatorial nominee firmed his position on the issue: He'd "OK" an increase only after a handful of pro-business concessions are brokered.

"As I’ve said all along, I absolutely will support raising the minimum wage in Illinois, but I want to insist that it be included with business reform, workers comp reform, tax rate reduction and tort reform. Then I will advocate for it," Rauner told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Meanwhile, a popular movement to increase wages for low-income workers is sweeping the nation and spawning protests in cities such as Chicago, where the costs of living are rising. Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced the creation of a task force devoted to hammering out a plan to grow incomes for Chicagoans relying on minimum wage and tips.

Here in Illinois, the minimum wage is set at $8.25. Earlier this week, Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn approved a measure to add a question to the Nov. 4 ballot asking voters whether the state should bump up hourly earnings to $10 by the year 2015.

State Republicans and several Democrats repping swing districts argue that doing so would lead to more unemployment. Quinn, backed by a majority of lawmakers within his party, thinks a minimum wage hike would invigorate the economy and have the effect of creating extra jobs.

"It's important that we build a movement, and that's exactly what we're here today to do," Quinn said at Sunday's bill-signing ceremony. "The best way to help the most people is to help them have a wage that gets them out of poverty where they can support their family."

Rauner, a wealthy venture capitalist from Winnetka, famously flip-flopped on the topic while seeking the GOP nomination for governor. In December, he vowed that, should he be elected, he'd slash the minimum wage by $1 to make it even with the $7.25-per-hour federal rate.

Weeks later, Rauner backtracked on his remarks, telling the Chicago Tribune: "I made a mistake. I was flippant and I was quick. 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."

Responding to Rauner's latest comments, Quinn's campaign stated, "It's heartless. Sadly, it looks like nothing has changed except that Rauner is now trying to make his opposition to raising the minimum wage more politically palatable.”

The "heartless" attack certainly stings Team Rauner, effectively casting the businessman as an out-of-touch Scrooge McDuck versus the down-to-earth, corruption-crusading Everyman he purports himself to be.

This round goes to Quinn.

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