Gov. Pat Quinn says raising Illinois’ minimum wage is about dignity and decency.
Quinn reiterated his push during his State of the State address. He says he wants to raise the state’s $8.25 rate to at least $10 an hour, plus he wants every worker in Illinois to have at least two paid sick days.
Minimum wage also has been a major issue on the 2014 gubernatorial campaign trail for Illinois Republicans. Three of the four GOP candidates oppose an increase.
Quinn also wants to again double an income tax credit aimed at helping poor Illinois families keep more of the money they earn. He says the tax credit should be increased over five years.
The state last increased the credit in 2011 as part of an incentive package aimed at keeping big businesses in the state. At the time, the state’s rate for the credit was among the lowest in the nation. The legislation increased it over two years from its original 5 percent to 10 percent by this year.
State officials said it would eventually translate to an average of about $100 a year per family.
Nice ideas, positive words, but no specifics on how to pay for any of it. That’s how the Republican leaders in the Illinois General Assembly sized up the governor’s address.
“I appreciate the governor – his job is to be positive,” said House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs). “I think (there were) some noble goals, but the fact is there’s a price tag that goes along with some of these things.”
“I think we have to be careful to listen to the words but then look at the real experience of people in Illinois,” said his Senate counterpart, Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont). “We’ve got high unemployment.”
Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) says the governor’s positive attitude was appropriate, accurate, and refreshing, saying Illinois’ success stories include a “dramatic reduction in our debt, and some real progress in terms of our business climate.”
As for the proposed minimum wage increase, Cullerton says it’s essential to pass it, while Durkin calls it a “gotcha” question. And Radogno reminds us the income tax increase is to expire midway through the upcoming fiscal year; unmentioned during the State of the State, she calls it “the elephant in the room.”
The governor’s budget address is Feb. 19.
State Rep. Rich Brauer (R-Petersburg) says all heard was talk about more spending in the state.
“I think the thing he talked most of all was spending, spending, spending, programs, programs, programs,” he said. “Unfortunately we can’t afford most of the programs we have in place now. We need to look at controlling costs and he didn’t even touch on that.”
Brauer said he was disappointed the governor didn’t lay out a legislative road map.
Listen to Quinn’s remarks by clicking the audio link below