The Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate who said the state’s minimum wage should be lowered is now backtracking.
A day after an interview surfaced in which equity investor Bruce Rauner, one of a handful of Republicans in the gubernatorial race, said that the minimum wage should be lowered by a dollar rather than raised, he backtracked.
“I made a mistake. I was flippant and I was quick,” Rauner said in an interview with The Chicago Tribune. “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.”
Specifically, Rauner argued that Illinois’ minimum wage should be lowered from $8.25 to $7.25. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. That proposal contrasts with calls by Gov. Pat Quinn (D), who Rauner is hoping to replace, to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour. President Barack Obama and national Democrats have also called on raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
But going forward, Rauner said he plans to push for linking Illinois minimum wage to the national minimum wage.
“I will advocate moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage,” Rauner said. “I think we’ve got to be competitive here in Illinois. It’s critical we’re competitive. We’re hurting our economy by having the minimum wage above the national. We’ve got to move back to the national.”
Rauner’s three opponents in the Republican primary, state Sen. Bill Brady, Illinois state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Kirk Dillard, do not support raising the minimum wage but have not argued that it should be lowered.
The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) was quick to bash Rauner, even after he apologized.
“They say a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. In the case of Bruce Rauner, he showed his true colors when he said that Illinois’ minimum wage needs to be cut,” DGA spokesman Danny Kanner said in a statement. “Only a right-wing billionaire would think it’s right to take thousands of dollars a year from working people who live on the brink of poverty. Forget his insincere apology today – the real Bruce Rauner would force thousands of Illinoisans into poverty if he had the chance, and voters won’t soon forget.”
The Sun-Times reported that Rauner’s income was $53 million in 2012.