CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn, who has made his push to raise the state’s minimum wage a key component of his re-election campaign, said Sunday he will live on the equivalent of a minimum wage salary for the next week.
Quinn said he plans to spend no more than $79 on food and other expenses – a figure his office said is the estimated amount that someone working full time for the state’s minimum wage of $8.25 an hour has to spend after housing costs, transportation costs and taxes.
“Some of our hardest working men and women are living in poverty and that’s not right,” Quinn said in a statement.
Though the news release did not mention Republican opponent Bruce Rauner by name, it follows the release of an ad that harshly criticizes the multimillionaire and Rauner’s statement late last year that he favored cutting the minimum wage by $1. Since then, Rauner has said he’d be open to raising the minimum wage if it is tied to business reforms, so that small businesses could absorb added labor costs.
Efforts to raise the minimum wage in Illinois have thus far been unsuccessful. November’s ballot will include a nonbinding question in which voters will be asked if the minimum should be raised for people over age 18 from $8.25 to $10 by 2015.
Quinn is not the first politician to highlight the plight of the less fortunate by putting himself in their shoes. In Chicago, the most famous example came in 1981 when then-Mayor Jane Byrne responded to a gang war that left 11 residents dead in a public housing complex in a three-month period by moving in for three weeks to publicize her efforts to clean up the area.