Governor Addresses Minimum Wage in Galesburg

QuinnatQIllinois Governor Pat Quinn meandered into Q’s Cafe in Galesburg on Wednesday, but didn’t get very far before being met with the applause and handshakes of local supporters.

Quinn appeared in Galesburg as part of a multi-community tour discussing his plans to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour. Currently, Illinois has a minimum wage rate of $8.25 an hour.

“This is our latest effort to give people in Illinois a chance to tell the legislators, tell everybody what ought to be done,” says Quinn.

Voters will be able to cast their ballot on a non-binding referendum to potentially increase the minimum wage, among other things, on November 4th.

As part of his efforts to bring attention to the issue, the Governor has been living off $79 this week. It’s part of what’s called the “minimum wage challenge.” The $79 figure has been described as the funds a minimum wage worker has leftover after paying for expenses such as housing, transportation, and taxes.

Quinn has been making efforts to keep his food purchases within the self-imposed budget.

“I usually eat a banana for breakfast, and then graham crackers aren’t too bad,” says Quinn. “Graham crackers I bought for $2.19 a box and they last a pretty good long time and I’m going to have to make sure they last through Saturday.”

Quinn spent one of the dollars in his budget on a brownie while at Q’s Cafe.

The Governor responded to criticism that participation in the “minimum wage challenge” is a gimmick. In a press release, Quinn says those individuals should spend one day in a minimum wage workers’ shoes to get a better sense of just what it’s like. Some data suggests that by increasing the minimum wage, a half-million consumers will make an extra $4,800 each year.

Quinn, the incumbent Democrat, will be facing Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner for the gubernatorial slot in November.

According to a poll conducted by the Small Business Majority, nearly two-thirds of small-business owners support raising the federal minimum wage. Surveys conducted by the Galesburg Area Chamber of Commerce last year indicate that 87-percent of local businesses oppose a minimum wage hike.

Quinn says businesses needs to take a look at the “real life facts.”

“When you have a good worker, and you give that worker a little bit more in pay, say you raise the minimum wage, that worker sticks with you, you don’t have to go out and find a new worker and train that worker, it saves a lot of money for businesses” says Quinn.

The Governor has been facing accusations of “corruption” from his opponent. However, Quinn made it a point to address recent reports that his opponent spent six figures to join a wine club.

According to a press release, raising the minimum wage is part of a strategy by the Governor to drive economic growth and alleviate poverty.

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