By Jamey Dunn
A judge has ruled that Gov. Pat Quinn must pay the contractual raises he denied to state employees, but the governor plans to appeal the decision.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Richard Billik ordered Quinn to pay the raises that approximately 30, 000 state employees have been waiting for since July 2011.
"This ruling is a strong affirmation of the union's clear and simple position: Employees must be paid the wages they are owed, and a contract cannot be unilaterally discarded," Henry Bayer, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, said in a written statement.
Quinn said he could not give the raises because the General Assembly did not include the money in the budget. However, more than 1,700 employees at the Illinois Department of Revenue and the Criminal Justice Information Authority received the pay increase in August. Quinn’s administration said both agencies had enough funding to afford the pay increases because of smaller-than-expected personnel costs.
“The Illinois General Assembly did not appropriate money for raises in its Fiscal Year '12 budget. As the governor has said repeatedly, the state cannot pay money it does not have the appropriation authority to spend. We will immediately appeal this ruling,” said a statement from Quinn’s budget office.
But the union called on Quinn to let the ruling stand. "Gov. Quinn has wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars with the goal of preventing middle-class public employees from being paid according to their contract and the law. We urge the governor to end his wasteful court battle and move forward to pay employees who have waited far too long,” Bayer said.