I’ve been covering politics for more than 25 years.
I’ve seen politicians prevaricate, flip-flop, quibble and just about everything in between.
I’m never surprised when they do it.
But it’s still disappointing.
The Illinois minimum wage is $8.25 per hour; the federal rate, $7.25.
Last month GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner told a Moline audience that he favored rolling back the Illinois minimum wage.
Now he’s saying he doesn’t want that. He says he was just being “flippant” when he made the statement.
I’m sorry. I’m not buying it.
A lower minimum wage helps low-skilled workers enter the job market because it lowers employers’ costs to hire and train them. This enables more people to be hired and start their way up the ladder toward higher wages.
That’s pretty standard free-market economics, something Bruce Rauner has expressed strong support for.
But those principles seem to be butting heads with politics.
Rauner is a successful, wealthy businessman.
Conventional political wisdom is that he will get whacked six ways to Sunday by his opponents if he comes out against a policy like the minimum wage that is perceived to benefit low-income people.
It could make for a nasty sound byte in a political commercial: “the uncaring millionaire.”
So we end up with a candidate who vacillates.
Now he says he wants the federal minimum wage raised to $10 an hour.
Bruce, say what you mean, and mean what you say.
Illinoisans deserve that.
Weathering the Storm
There is a difference in the mindset of those who work for government and those who don’t.
Don’t get me wrong, there are good people working in both the public and private sectors.
But a different mindset prevails in these two worlds.
Take this week’s weather.
It was cold, very cold.
Some of the roads were pretty crappy.
And Gov. Pat Quinn told most state workers they didn’t have to show up.
“To protect the safety of our employees and the people they serve, I am directing state employees whose duties are not critical to state services to stay home and off the roads on Monday,” he said.
But they still got paid.
A more reasonable approach would have been to say: “If you think you can arrive at work safely, come on in. Otherwise, please take a vacation day.”
Interestingly enough, it was mainly the desk-bound set that got paid to stay home. Nurses, prison guards and road crews were expected to show up.
I guess the roads leading to state prisons, nursing homes and maintenance sheds had been cleared before those leading to welfare offices, administrative centers and driver’s license facilities.
Either that, or some people’s safety wasn’t as important as others.
In the private sector, most restaurants and stores stayed open.
The owners of those businesses knew that if they didn’t stay open they wouldn’t get paid.
Their employees knew that as well.
Some had to take vacation time because their children were out of school or streets near them hadn’t been adequately cleared. But most made it into work. After all, that’s their job.
Sure, some private firms shut down for the day. But most didn’t.
It’s easier to be generous with other people’s money than with your own.
The problem is the money the state is being generous with is ours.
Local 150 Backs Two Horses for Governor
Last year, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 gave $52,600 in campaign donations to Republican gubernatorial hopeful, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale.
Union spokesman Ed Maher said this about the Dillard donation at the time: “Local 150 has been proud to support Kirk Dillard for many years and for many reasons. He has always been willing to work cooperatively with labor to enhance economic activity in the state. Instead of looking at unions as nothing more than an enemy, he is not afraid to work together when it benefits the state.”
This week it was revealed that the Local 150 PAC has donated almost five times that much, $250,000, to Gov. Pat Quinn, who is running for re-election on the Democratic ticket.