SPRINGFIELD — A day after Bruce Rauner offered qualified support for a minimum-wage hike, a new video surfaced Thursday showing the GOP gubernatorial candidate telling an audience of Downstate Republicans in September that he “adamantly, adamantly” opposes raising the income bar for Illinois’ working poor.
The video in which Rauner appears to contradict the minimum-wage platform he outlined Wednesday came from the Democratic-funded Super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, which Thursday posted on YouTube the recording of Rauner addressing the issue four months ago before Ford County Republicans.
“I am adamantly, adamantly against raising the minimum wage. My view is we already have the second highest unemployment in America. We already have an outrageously high unemployment rate among low-income, poor minority kids in Chicago, in Rockford, in Peoria and East St. Louis. And raising the minimum wage is just going to blow them out and take away their jobs. We cannot do this,” Rauner said in the video.
“Let’s be clear: The right answer to raised wages is a booming economy with employers competing to hire people and having our young people well educated and well trained,” Rauner said, drawing applause from the crowd gathered Sept. 7 at a Gibson City golf course.
On Wednesday, Rauner said he misspoke and was “flippant” in remarks during a December candidates forum in the Quad Cities, when he appeared to advocate rolling back Illinois’ $8.25-an-hour minimum wage to the national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Rauner told the Chicago Sun-Times that he does not believe that and actually favors increasing the national minimum wage to as much as $10 an hour. If there is not the federal will, Rauner said he would be open to increasing Illinois’ rate so long as it was tied to business-friendly workers compensation and tort reforms and changes in the state’s corporate tax structure.
Raising the minimum wage, Rauner said Wednesday, “won’t crush small business owners, and it can help struggling families.”
The group that posted Thursday’s video of Rauner sounding a completely opposite tone on the minimum wage in September said it demonstrates the Winnetka Republican isn’t dealing honestly with voters on his attitudes toward how much Illinois’ working poor should be paid.
“This isn’t an instance of a gaffe, but an instance of a millionaire candidate caught telling the truth that he opposes raising the minimum wage,” American Bridge 21st Century spokesman Eddie Vale said.
American Bridge 21st Century is a liberal Super PAC funded by labor unions and major Democratic donors. The group’s largest financial backer is billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, a well-known supporter of liberal causes who donated $1 million to the group in 2012, campaign records with the Federal Election Commission show.
Since 2011, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees has contributed $675,000 to American Bridge, while the National Education Association has chipped in another $300,000, federal records show.
The Rauner campaign insisted his language at the September political event against raising the minimum wage is not inconsistent with what he said Wednesday, when he offered his supported for hiking the minimum wage under certain circumstances.
“Bruce has learned his lesson about the need to give well thought out responses to the issue of raising the minimum wage,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“He supports raising the minimum wage if it is done federally to ensure that all states are on the same level, or if it’s done locally together with a comprehensive program to make Illinois more economically competitive,” Schrimpf said. “Without those features, he’s opposed to it.”
Meanwhile Thursday, Gov. Pat Quinn, who advocates raising the state minimum wage to $10 an hour, poked fun at Rauner and his GOP rivals on the minimum wage issue.
In an email to supporters, the governor likened his Republican opponents to the villainous character in “The Simpsons,” Mr. Burns, who is owner of the fictitious Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and Homer Simpson’s miserly boss.
“All four Republicans oppose my plan to raise the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour in Illinois. One of them – a billionaire at that – even announced his proposal to slash the minimum wage by $1 an hour – taking $2,000 a year out of the pockets of those earning the least, which is cruel, heartless and wrong,” Quinn said in his email.
“These guys have all the compassion of C. Montgomery Burns,” the governor said.