• AP Photo/Seth Perlman
  • Bruce Rauner, speaking to supporters in August at the state fair in Springfield. The candidate for governor recently told a downstate radio station he favors lowering the Illinois minimum wage to $7.25.

Bruce Rauner, the multimillionaire venture capitalist who wants to be governor, thinks Illinois should do something about its minimum wage of $8.25. He thinks the state should reduce it by a dollar.

Rauner made the proposal at a candidate’s forum in Moline in December, but it was not widely reported.

Rauner said he’d advocate lowering the Illinois minimum to the federal minimum—$7.25—because “We’ve got to be competitive here in Illinois.”

Illinois is one of 21 states nationally with a minimum wage higher than the federal rate. In 19 states, the rate is the same as the federal rate; four states have lower minimum wages, and six have no minimum wage.

Rauner’s proposal comes as President Obama and Democrats in Congress are pushing for increasing the federal rate to $10.10. Illinois governor Pat Quinn favors boosting the state’s minimum to ten dollars. Rauner is seeking the Republican nomination and has been endorsed by the Cook County Republican Party. None of his three opponents in the March 18 primary have recommended cutting the Illinois minimum.

Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat who’s deputy majority leader in the Illinois House, blasted Rauner’s proposal. “In my 26 years in the legislature, I’ve seen many candidates roll out anti-poverty plans, but Bruce Rauner is the only candidate to roll-out a pro-poverty plan,” Lang observed on his blog. He said Rauner was “deeply out of touch with working people. He needs to come to grips with the fact that the era of robber barons is over.”

Rauner is a free-market conservative who believes in lower taxes, less government spending, and fewer regulations on business. Last January, when he said he was exploring a run for governor, he told the State Journal-Register he wanted to get rid of the “knuckleheads who are mismanaging state government.” He also noted that he was worth “hundreds of millions.”

You have to hand it to Rauner for his counterintuitive proposal. Income and wealth inequality is vast and growing in America, and the state and nation need some outside-the-box thinking. But instead of cutting the minimum wage, how about we start by setting a maximum wage? That’s an idea a creative thinker like Rauner surely would endorse.