Bill Brady Changes Tune On Rolling Back Illinois Minimum Wage

Since Bill Brady became the GOP's candidate for Illinois governor, he has changed his tune on several positions. First, he had to tone down some of his extreme right-wing views. He stopped his plan to re-legalize mass gas-chamber euthanasia of pets and removed his name from a bill he originally sponsored that would have allowed some employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. This week, he is backing off his proposal to lower the state's minimum wage.

Speaking at a VFW convention last week, Brady said the state should lower its minimum wage to match the minimum set by the federal government.

"I disagree with trying to elevate the minimum wage above the federal level," Brady said. "The federal level is a competitive level, competing with neighboring states. We are losing jobs because private sector business investments (are) going to other states."

The statement was immediately pounced on by Brady's Democratic rival--Gov. Pat Quinn.

"I don't think it's fair at all that someone who is working 40 hours a week doing very difficult jobs, getting paid a very modest minimum wage should have to live in poverty," Quinn said, according to CBS Chicago.

On Thursday, the minimum wage in Illinois will go from $8 an hour to $8.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. During a Tuesday speech at the City Club, reporters asked Brady if this meant that some workers would be forced to take a $1 pay cut if he gets elected.

"It's the unemployed I'm most worried about," Mr. Brady initially answered, suggesting that Illinois won't get many new jobs until costs are competitive with those in surrounding states.

But, pressed further, he suggested that the state minimum be frozen until the federal rate rises to Illinois' level.

He changed his stance further when speaking to CBS Chicago.

"We should allow the federal minimum wage to catch up to the Illinois minimum wage," Brady said. "That's my statement."

The change of heart could have been due to the public's response to his plan. From CBS:

When asked if the minimum wage should be lowered, Peter Cariola of Glen Ellyn said, "I think that's crazy, especially in today's market."

"If they rolled it back any further, you'll see more poverty, higher crime because people cannot afford to live," said Darlene Lewis of South Holland.

Previously, Brady has flip-flopped on his plans for the state budget and his solution for funding state pensions. After months of touting his plan to cut the state budget 10 percent "across the board," he then told a Capitol Fax intern that he "never said across-the-board." During the primary campaign, he also said he would borrow to fill the $80-billion hole in the state's pension plans. He later called that plan "digging the hole deeper." His latest pension plan revolves around worker-funded pensions--with no government support.