SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Kirk Dillard says Gov. Pat Quinn’s call for an increase in the minimum wage is merely an “election-year stunt.”

But Dillard, who is running for governor in 2014, voted in favor of raising the minimum wage in 2006 when it was being pushed by now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican, was among eight GOP senators who said “yes” in November 2006 to a plan to bump the minimum wage to $7.50 an hour in 2007. It topped out at $8.25 an hour in 2010.

Dillard spokesman Wes Bleed said Dillard has been a consistent opponent of minimum wage increases, but was persuaded to support the 2006 boost because the economy was in better shape.

"For the most part, he has opposed increasing the minimum wage," Bleed said.

Two of Dillard’s opponents in the GOP race for governor – state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa – voted “no” on the 2006 minimum wage hike.

Dillard’s running mate, state Rep. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, also voted “no” on the 2006 proposal.

On Wednesday, Quinn held a press conference to announce he wants lawmakers to boost the minimum wage to $10 an hour by Christmas 2014.

The governor said the move will help eliminate poverty.

In a statement issued after Quinn’s announcement, Dillard said: “I know families are struggling out there, and times are tough. But Governor Quinn is just trying to cover up the fact that since he’s been governor, our state’s business climate has sunk to historic lows.”

“We need to bring good paying, real jobs back to Illinois --- jobs that have a future --- jobs that families can build a life on. Raising the minimum wage as an election-year stunt won’t do that,” Dillard’s statement added.

The fourth candidate in the GOP gubernatorial race, former pension fund manager and businessman Bruce Rauner, said raising the minimum wage could increase Illinois’ unemployment rate.

“The best way to start raising wages is by getting rid of Pat Quinn and creating a booming economy and dramatically better schools and vocational training,” Rauner said in a statement.

(Kurt Erickson can be reached at kurt.erickson@lee.net or 217-782-4043)

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