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Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates On Offense Over Minimum Wage Hike

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TO:                 Interested Parties
FROM:          Danny Kanner, DGA Communications Director
DATE:            January 23, 2014
RE:                 Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates On Offense Over Minimum Wage Hike
In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama made the case for increasing the minimum wage and taking decisive action where Congress refuses. Democratic gubernatorial candidates agree with the President – raising the minimum wage is critical to closing the income gap in America and are committed to making it a reality no matter the ideological opposition.
Unfortunately, Republican governors and gubernatorial candidates continue to be openly hostile to the idea. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker mocked it as an example of “political grandstanding,” Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said it isn’t “a burning issue,” Florida Governor Rick Scott described how it makes him “cringe” while characterizing the notion that it would help working people as a “lie,” and Illinois Republican Bruce Rauner went so far as to suggest the minimum wage should be cut by a dollar in order to keep the state “competitive.”
Rather than supporting a commonsense measure to increase the standard of living for working people, Republican governors are once again proving their blind commitment to a failed, top-down economic ideology that does nothing to create jobs or strengthen the middle class.
In fact, no issue better crystalizes the broader debate between 2014 Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates than that of a minimum wage hike. Since taking office, Republican governors have been fighting to reward the wealthiest and the well-connected at the expense of the middle class while Democrats are focused on creating jobs, strengthening the middle class and investing in education, infrastructure and workforce training.
These are two starkly different economic philosophies, and the minimum wage debate makes that clear. In this case, Democrats are standing with the American people while Republicans, once again, thumb their nose at them.
A recent Wall Street Journal/ NBC poll shows 63% of Americans support raising the minimum wage. That majority, according to a recent Quinnipiac Poll, includes a plurality of Republicans by a margin of 49% to 44%.
The only priority for Democratic gubernatorial candidates is making the lives of hard-working families better, not some ideological agenda. That’s what a minimum wake hike is all about. And for that reason, Democratic gubernatorial candidates intend to make this a major issue in the 2014 elections.
Here’s the background on how a minimum wage hike has become a major issue in top battleground gubernatorial races, serving to crystallize the fundamental economic choice between Democratic and Republican candidates for governor:
Bousquet: Crist Enthusiastically Supported Minimum Wage Raise, Raise Made Scott “Cringe.” Tampa Bay Times reporter Steve Bousquet noted in a column, “as a Democratic candidate for governor, Crist enthusiastically supports a higher minimum wage… Two Democratic state lawmakers from Miami have filed bills to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in Florida to help working families. A spokesman for Scott said the idea made the governor ‘cringe.’” [Steve Bousquet column, Tampa Bay Times, 1/13/14]
LePage Vetoed Minimum Wage Hike. In 2013 LePage vetoed a bill that “would incrementally increase the minimum wage from the current $7.50 per hour to $9 an hour by 2015, followed by annual increases tied to inflation… LePage wrote in his veto letter that Maine should focus on creating better jobs rather than improving its lowest-paying jobs.” [Bangor Daily News, 7/8/13]
Michaud a Cosponsor of Federal Bill to Raise Minimum Wage. The Portland Press Herald reported, “Pingree and Michaud are co-sponsors of the Fair Minimum Wage Act in Congress, which would raise the federal minimum — now at $7.25 per hour — to $10.10 per hour in two years.” [Portland Press Herald, 3/29/13]
Mark Schauer Called For Raising Michigan’s Minimum Wage To $9.25. “Democrat Mark Schauer is proposing to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $9.25 an hour over three years and automatically tie future increases to inflation, saying he would make hiking the $7.40 wage a top priority if elected governor next year… Schauer said a $9.25 per hourly rate would give low-wage workers the same buying power as 1968, which he said is when the minimum wage had its highest purchasing power. He sought to counter expected opposition from Republicans and business leaders who say hiking the wage would costjobs and lead to steeper prices.” [Detroit Free Press, 11/18/13]
Gov. Rick Snyder’s Office Said Minimum Wage Increase Wasn’t “A Burning Issue.” “A spokesman for Snyder’s office called the proposed change a ‘significant hike’ that could ‘pose real challenges.’ […] ‘It hasn’t been a burning issue because Michigan is already above the federal minimum,’ said Snyder spokesperson Dave Murray in a statement.” [MLive, 11/18/13]
Corbett signals he won’t push to hike minimum wage. Gov. Tom Corbett is signaling that he won’t support an increase in Pennsylvania’s minimum wage, saying he’s worried about the impact on the state’s economy. Corbett told the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre on Friday that he has no plans to encourage lawmakers to increase Pennsylvania’s $7.25-an-hour minimum wage. Corbett said the economy’s starting to come back from the recession and he’s worried about changing the economic dynamic. [Associated Press, 12/7/13]
Walker Called Raising Minimum Wage “Political Grandstanding.” The Associated Press reported, “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says raising the minimum wage is a ‘political grandstanding stunt’ that will kill jobs… Walker said raising the minimum wage will lead to job losses and opportunities for young people to find entry-level positions.” [Associated Press, 1/23/14]
Burke Supported Minimum Wage Raise. The Associated Press reported, “Walker’s Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, said she supports raising it by 35 cents an hour to $7.60.” [Associated Press, 1/23/14]
Gov. Pat Quinn Has Pushed Minimum Wage Increase Opposed By All Four GOP Candidates. “Making a stop at a Pilsen church, Gov. Pat Quinn found a receptive audience as he talked about a push to raise Illinois’ minimum wage from the current $8.25 an hour to at least $10… The Democratic governor has been calling for a minimum wage increase for nearly a year… All four potential Republican rivals vying in the March 18 governor primary oppose a minimum wage increase, including Winnetka venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, perhaps the wealthiest candidate ever to run for statewide office in Illinois.” [Chicago Tribune, 1/2/14]
Bruce Rauner Initially Said He Favored Cutting Minimum Wage; Tried To Backtrack Even As Video Surfaced Of Him Saying He Was “Adamantly, Adamantly” Against An Increase. “First, Bruce Rauner seemed to say he favored cutting the state’s $8.25-an-hour minimum wage. Then, he retreated from those ‘flippant’ remarks made in December and said this week he favors increasing pay for Illinois’ poorest workers to as much as $10 an hour. On Thursday came yet another twist in the Republican gubernatorial candidate’s confusing and evolving stance on a vital issue affecting 1.1 million Illinois workers: a September video in which Rauner said he ‘adamantly, adamantly’ opposes raising the minimum wage. Got all that?” [Dave McKinney, Voices, Sun-Times, 1/9/14]
Brownback’s former tax consultant criticizes federal minimum wage as ‘black teenage unemployment act.’ “Art Laffer, the $75,000 consultant who helped shape Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax changes, called the federal minimum wage “the black teenage unemployment act.” While on Fox News on Wednesday, Laffer said the minimum wage “makes no sense to me.” He added, “I mean, honestly, it’s just the teenage — black teenage unemployment act, and this is the very groups that we need to have jobs and not be put out of work because of the minimum wage.” Laffer argued that more teenagers would be hired if employers could pay them less than the $7.25 federal minimum. [Lawrence Journal World, 1/10/14]
Governor Branstad Hasn’t Raised the Minimum Wage Since 2008. “The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Iowa’s first minimum wage became effective Jan. 1, 1990 — after being signed into law by Gov. Terry Branstad — with a wage rate of $3.85 per hour. It was last raised by state lawmakers in 2007 from $5.15 to $6.20 and again in 2008 to $7.25.” [The WCF Courier, 1/1/14]
Jack Hatch Proposed $10.10 Minimum Wage; Would Make Iowa’s Highest In Nation. “Democratic candidate for Iowa governor Jack Hatch on Monday said if elected he would seek to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, his latest in a series of detailed policy proposals. A minimum wage of $10.10 an hour would represent an increase of $2.85 an hour over the current minimum of $7.25 and matches a proposal offered at the federal level by Iowa U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin. If approved, it would make Iowa’s minimum wage the highest by far nationwide, as Washington State currently leads with a $9.32/hour minimum.” [Des Moines Register, 12/30/13]