Wednesday, February 6, 2013

EXTRA: A partisan political brawl is in the works – all over a crummy $10

You have to admire Gov. Pat Quinn, in a way.
QUINN: Willing to tick people off

The man is willing to say and do things that he knows will tick people off.

HE’S ALREADY GOT the ideologues gunning for him because of his eager backing for gay marriage being legal in Illinois. Now, he’s going to have them taking his name in vain because of the minimum wage.

Illinois already has a minimum wage that is one dollar per hour higher than the national minimum – and higher than that paid to workers in neighboring Indiana.

But it’s not good enough. He used his “State of the State” address on Wednesday to say he wants to bolster it even higher – up to $10 per hour.

He would do it in increments. A slight increase each year for the next four years until that $10 level is achieved.

THAT’S STILL NOT a lot of money, if you’re honest about it.

But Quinn sees the current issue as one where people working a full 40 hours per week are making so little that they’re still at poverty level.

Which will get him support in some circles. But I’m sure the business interests will despise the notion of paying their labor any more, and they will go out of their way to encourage the idea that they will relocate to a place where work is cheaper.

Or, to be honest, to a place where the political people are willing to let their citizenry be devalued to the lower wages they permit.

PERSONALLY, I HAVE always thought companies (and people) get what they pay for. You go to a place where things are cheap, it’s usually because there isn’t anything there worth paying for.

Which is why I couldn’t help but notice the Illinois Senate Republicans using a Twitter account to immediately point out that Illinois’ minimum wage is “already significantly higher” than that of surrounding states.

Perhaps Quinn is just realistic enough to know some people are never going to support him, so he’s not going to pander to their rancid rhetoric on so many issues.
LIGHTFORD: Doing heavy lifting on issue

So what happens now?

WE’LL HAVE TO wait and see what happens in the General Assembly. State Rep. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, already has a bill in the legislative process.

But thousands of bills get introduced each year. Only a few hundred actually get considered, and many less wind up getting that gubernatorial autograph that turns them into state laws.

Let’s hope that Quinn didn’t stir up so much resentment on Wednesday that he killed off the concept of a higher wage for our state’s workers.

Then again, I’m sure the ideologues are more offended at his talk about gun control measures. But that’s a debate for another day.


EDITOR'S NOTE: For those who feel compelled to do so, the governor has made available the text of his annual address.

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