While it remains to be seen how Bruce Rauner\’s minimum wage two-step will affect his chances of becoming Illinois\’ next governor, one takeaway for business is clear: A minimum-wage increase is becoming more likely.
Mr. Rauner\’s public struggle to figure out exactly where he stands on the issue — apparently going from opposing an increase to favoring a cut to supporting an increase under the right circumstances — have pushed the minimum wage to the front pages and made it a focus of campaign debate. Supporters of an increase, like Gov. Pat Quinn, sense new momentum, while opponents in the business community feel blindsided.
It\’s one thing when a left-leaning populist like Mr. Quinn comes out for a minimum wage increase. His arguments are taken with the usual grain of salt accorded to standard line items in the liberal agenda. But the idea gains more credibility when a Republican candidate for governor, especially one seen as closely aligned with business, speaks favorably about it (even with qualifiers).
Mr. Rauner\’s GOP opponents quickly voiced their opposition to an increase, but all the chatter only drew more attention to the issue.
“By the governor and the Republican candidates talking about it, they have put a spotlight on it that wasn\’t there before,” says Doug Whitley, CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. “It will be a legislative issue this spring.”
You bet it will. And when supporters of an increase make their case, they\’ll be able to quote a leading GOP gubernatorial candidate. More…