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Gubernatorial Hopefuls Agree On Min Wage Hike, Single Payer Healthcare & Free College At Forum

By aaroncynic in News on Oct 9, 2017 6:43PM

Getty Images / Photo: Tim Boyle

More than 1,500 packed the Chicago Teachers Union headquarters on Sunday for a gubernatorial forum featuring Democratic primary candidates who have lined up to challenge Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018.

The forum featured seven candidates—billionaire J.B. Pritzker, businessman Chris Kennedy, State Senator Daniel Biss, Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar, businessman Alex Paterakis, community organizer Tio Hardiman, and the Regional Superintendent of Schools in Madison County, Bob Daiber. More than 50 independent and progressive organizations sponsored the event.

The two-hour debate—moderated by NBC5’s Mary Ann Ahern—covered a host of topics, including gun control, a $15 an hour minimum wage, the potential of an Amazon headquarters in Illinois, single payer healthcare, college tuition, and of course—Democratic House Speaker and Republican boogyman Michael Madigan.

Madigan, who has been Speaker for nearly three decades, has long been a source of ire for many critical of Illinois government, and the Illinois GOP has tried to tie multiple potential challengers to Rauner to him.

“I don’t know him," said Ameya Pawar, when Ahern asked the candidates about their relationship to Madigan, according to Northern Public Radio. "He’s never done anything for me. I’ve never asked him for anything. Like I said, I got here on my own. By knocking on doors and with the strength of my community. I have no interest in making this about personalities or making it about one boogeyman.”

“Either he wants to be a property tax lawyer or a state representative,” said Chris Kennedy, according to the Sun-Times.

Biss said the Speaker was too powerful, while Hardiman said he, along with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel “need to go.” Pritzker called Madigan a GOP “talking point.”

While the candidates all expressed their support for free college, some differed on the implementation of it. Kennedy said he supports free tutition for Illinois students, but with an income cap between $120,000 and $150,000 a year. Both Pawar and Biss said they do not support income caps.

“When we create programs that only apply to some, eventually those get eroded,” said Biss, according to the Daily Northwestern. “The powers that be that don’t want to pay their share chip away and chip away.”

Biss said that a progressive or graduated income tax—where people with higher incomes pay higher rates than those with lower incomes—could help to fund such an initiative.

The candidates also disagreed on the potential of an Amazon headquarters in Chicago. Both Pritzker and Biss said that there would need to be real benefits in with an attempt to woo the company, while Pawar said no money should be given to the company unless those investments were matched with education and infrastructure. Daiber supports the state investing in Amazon, while Kennedy said it would be “destroying the economy to accommodate a single company.”

All seven candidates said they support strong gun control measures, a $15 an hour minimum wage, and single payer healthcare.