New tactic to emphasize minimum wage concerns

By Alex Davis |

Published 07/28 2014 04:53PM

Updated 07/28 2014 05:07PM

ILLINOIS -- The debate over raising the minimum wage is taking on a new twist. Governor Quinn says he'll live off of $8.25 per hour to see what it's like. But, critics say it's nothing more than politics in an election year. WCIA-3's Alex Davis keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

Raising the minimum wage to $10/hour is an emotional issue. The governor hopes to encourage others to vote in favor of it this fall.

"Raise the wage! Raise the wage! Raise the wage!"

Governor Pat Quinn wants a higher minimum wage and has even agreed to live on $8.25/hour for a week. John Trader has worked as an auto mechanic for years and had to live on minimum wage. He doesn't feel Quinn is doing it for the experience.

"It's a very political thing. The politician is just trying to get our votes to see if they can help get them back into office."

Trader says it's a serious issue which shouldn't become a political ploy.

"It was hard for me. It was very hard for me and that was years ago."

Today, with a higher cost of living, he says it'd be even harder.

"There ain't anybody going to get by on $8.25 an hour when rent is anywhere from $500, $600, $700."

Trader says people living on those low wages can't get by, let alone get ahead.

"Milk, groceries and everything's all going to go up."

James Carrell disagrees. He thinks a nearly $2 increase in minimum wage would be beneficial.

"I think it will make a difference."

When you do the math, $8.25/hour at 40 hours per week comes to $1,320 per month before taxes. At $10/hour, they'd make close to $300 more.

"Obviously that's enough to pay, like a cellphone bill, or internet bill."

But, with Governor Quinn claiming it could help people out of poverty, to Carrell, the numbers don't add up.

"Obviously, nobody should be in poverty, but, at the same time, where we're at right now, I don't know if it's something where increasing minimum wage is going to help that."

Quinn's Republican challenger Bruce Rauner is against raising the minimum wage. He wants Illinois' wage to match the federal rate which is $7.25/hour.

After taxes, a person on minimum wage makes about $14,000/year. That's $1,100/month. In Champaign, they'll pay, on average, $700 for an apartment. Electricity runs between $80 - $100 and water adds another $30 to the bills leaving a person about $270/month for food and necessities.

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