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Quinn in Galesburg to Push for Higher Minimum Wage

TSPR's Emily Boyer

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn stopped in Galesburg Wednesday to drum up support for raising the state's minimum wage.
At Q's Cafe on Main Street, Quinn met with customers and supporters. Some of them recounted stories about family members having difficulty living off Illinois' current minimum wage of $8.25 an hour.

Quinn supports raising the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour. The issue has taken center stage of Quinn's reelection campaign.

"It's important to realize that when we raise the minimum wage for moms and dads who are raising kids, we are helping families in Illinois," Quinn said.

"There is no better way to help families, thousands of families, than to make sure we have a minimum wage that is higher than it is today."

Quinn called his Republican challenger Bruce Rauner disconnected from every day people.

"We have got to understand what every day people who live from paycheck-to-paycheck who don't have all kinds of luxuries have to have a decent standard of living," Quinn said.

Quinn said raising the state's minimum wage would also help businesses attract and retain skilled workers.

"When you have a good worker and you give that worker a little more bit more in pay, say raise the minimum wage, that worker sticks with you. You don't have to go out and find another worker and train that worker, so it saves a lot of money for businesses."

This week, Quinn is attempting to live off the minimum wage. He figured after living expenses, transportation costs and taxes he has $79 to spend this week.

"Great changes in our society never have come down from the top down," Quinn said. "They bubble up from grassroots citizens using democracy to make important changes that help the common good."

A non-binding referendum on this fall’s ballot will give Illinois voters a chance to weigh in on whether to increase the state's minimum wage.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.