Illinois State Sen. Bill Brady – a candidate in the Illinois Republican primary for governor – said he is hearing from manufacturers that people are not motivated to return to the workforce because they are “enjoying” their unemployment insurance.
Brady made the comment near the end of a debate, sponsored by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Valley Industrial Association, that was held this morning in the Chicago suburb of Naperville.
Brady participated along with all three opponents for the March 18 primary: venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
The candidates were asked by Greg Baise, who heads the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, about their positions on increasing Illinois’ unemployment benefits.
Rauner noted, “Most [manufacturers] have said, ‘It’s not the biggest problem we face, and workers comp is much bigger, taxes are much bigger, and some of the regulatory burden overall is a bigger problem.’”
But Brady said he’s heard something different than Rauner from manufacturers.
“I have to differ with Mr. Rauner on this,” Brady said. “The number one issue I run into when I travel around to manufacturing plants particularly, when I ask them, ‘How’s it going?’ They say, ‘I can’t hire my people back.’ They say, ‘They’re enjoying – I’ll use – their unemployment insurance. And I can’t get them back to work.’ So we’ve gotta motivate people to get back into the workforce.”
In a phone interview after the debate, Brady would not say which manufacturers have said people enjoy their unemployment benefits and are not motivated to return to work.
Rutherford, in responding to the unemployment question at the debate, related the problem to Chicago’s gun violence. Dillard was cut off for time purposes without answering the question.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security reported in December that the state’s unemployment rate stood at 8.6 percent, nearly 2 percentage points higher than the national average.
Brady is making his third run for the governor’s office. He lost in the 2006 Republican primary. In 2010, he lost in the general election to Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn. Dillard is making his second bid for governor after losing a close primary contest to Brady in 2010.
Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics. Follow him @tonyjarnold.