DiCianni, Krishnamoorthi debate minimum wage, help for working families

While the candidates for Illinois' 8th District congressional seat find some areas of agreement when it comes to helping working families, they differ on the role a minimum wage hike would play in giving those citizens a boost and disagree over whose background shows a better understanding of the working class.

Republican Pete DiCianni of Elmhurst and Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg are running for the U.S. House seat Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates is vacating this year as part of her run for the U.S. Senate. The 8th District is roughly centered in Schaumburg and includes areas of northwest Cook, northeast DuPage and northeast Kane counties.

DiCianni, the former Elmhurst mayor and a current DuPage County Board member, says his experience as a small-business owner gives him an understanding of what it takes to help working families.

"I felt like I was living the American dream when I built my printing business out of my parents' garage when I was 18 years old, so I could afford to go to a local community college and finish at a top business school like Elmhurst College," he said.

DiCianni said he's open to raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 per hour, but believes greater help for working people can be provided by funding career and tech educational programs for high school students.

"This would solve a lot of social problems," DiCianni said. "The fact is, not every kid is going to an Ivy League college."

He said he'd also push for tuition reimbursement for people who major, and then work for a certain number of years, in high-demand fields such as nursing and other types of health care.

Krishnamoorthi says he'd aggressively pursue raising the minimum wage to $10.10 or even higher in more expensive areas. He criticized DiCianni's stance of being "open" to a higher minimum wage as a dodge from taking a position, and claims that his Republican opponent's experience as a county board member and former mayor doesn't reflect support for working family issues.

"Don't read his lips, read his record," Krishnamoorthi said, adding that his background growing up in a working poor family gives him empathy and for the families in that position today.

The candidates share some similar positions on issues such as equal pay for equal work and community college tuition.

DiCianni said he would fight for equal pay, access to free or reduced public health and free community college with available child care for single mothers pursuing viable career paths.

Krishnamoorthi said he wants to help employers set up 401(k) retirement plans, backs legislation allowing the refinancing of private student loans and wants to see a national version of something similar to Harper College's Harper Promise program, which offers two years of free tuition to high achieving high school students.

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