SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration said today that 30,000 state workers in several agencies won’t be getting pay raises they are due, contending the budget signed by the governor late Thursday night doesn’t authorize enough money to pay them.
Directors of 14 state agencies, boards and commissions, along with labor unions, were notified today of the governor’s move. Those agencies include Corrections, Historic Preservation, Human Services, Labor, Natural Resources, Public Health and Revenue.
The Quinn administration argues state lawmakers shorted the payroll budget line by at least $75 million. The employees had been scheduled to receive pay increases effective today --- the beginning of the new budget year.
“If the state paid these increases, the impacted agencies would not be able to make payroll for the entire fiscal year, preventing them from continuing operations and providing core services to the people of Illinois,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
“Today’s action marks the first of many steps required to manage” the new budget, the governor’s office said.
The major state employees union fired back today and hinted at suing to get the raises restored.
“With his illegal and irresponsible actions today, Gov. Pat Quinn has trampled on the collective bargaining process and broken his contract with the men and women who do the real work of state government," said Henry Bayer, executive director of AFSCME Council 31.
“(These workers) fulfill their responsibilities to the citizens of this state, and they deserve to know that their employer, the governor, will honor the commitments made to them. Instead, Governor Quinn has shown that he lacks basic respect for the work they do. He has acted unilaterally and in clear contravention of union contracts to void modest, negotiated increases for frontline state employees, despite handing out 25 and 50 percent raises to his own inner circle.," Bayer continued.
State Rep. Frank Mautino of Spring Valley, the budget point man for Democrats who control the Illinois House, questioned whether Quinn had the authority to unilaterally deny contractually obligated pay increases that were part of a collective bargaining agreement.
Mautino said the governor’s office never brought up the possibility of abandoning contract provisions during budget discussions. “They were there for these discussions and the ability to not pay those contractual obligations was not an option that was brought up,” he said.
Mautino acknowledged lawmakers made cuts to the personal services budget lines of state agencies, but said it was to allow Quinn to eliminate unfilled positions since the governor had an agreement with one major public employees’ union not to seek layoffs.
“On this one, I think it’s very, very iffy you can do that,” Mautino said of denying the pay increases. “I don’t think it’s an enforceable cut.”