Gov. Pat Quinn agreed on Sunday to briefly live on the equivalent of a minimum-wage salary as he rallies support for a Nov. 4 Illinois ballot measure on the issue.
The Democrat made the pledge at a campaign event focused on the nonbinding ballot question, which asks voters if the minimum wage should be raised for people over age 18 from $8.25 to $10 by 2015.
“There’s a principle as old as the Bible,” Quinn told supporters at the Federal Plaza in Chicago. “If you work 40 hours a week, if you’re doing your job, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.”
Quinn has made the minimum wage a prominent issue in his race for re-election. His Republican challenger, Bruce Rauner, has said he’s open to raising the minimum wage if it’s tied to business reforms, so small businesses can absorb added labor costs.
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At Sunday’s event, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky had just told the crowd that she has lived for a week on a minimum-wage income. She then turned to ask Quinn if he’d also take what she called “the live-the-wage challenge.” He answered, “Yes.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what that would entail for Quinn, including what amount of money he’d live off of and for how long.
But Schakowsky said she lived on $77 for the week, or $11 a day. That is the amount of expendable money supposedly left over after subtracting typical housing expenses.
She conceded some critics saw what she did as a gimmick.
“I say to them: Try it,” she said. “There’s no way that you can stop into a Starbucks, that’s for sure, or pass a vending machine and decide you want a snack. Everything needs to be planned out for the week.”
Asked for a reaction to Quinn’s comments Sunday, Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said the candidate supports raising the national minimum wage. “In his jobs and growth agenda, Bruce put forward a plan on how the Illinois minimum wage can be raised,” Schrimpf said in an email.