Recent headlines out of Springfield say that Governor Bruce Rauner is promising that the state will pay court-ordered raises to state employees…but it remains unclear where that money will come from.
While the amount of money the ordered pay raises will cost remains unknown at this time, Governor Rauner pointed to a $350-million dollar surplus in his state budget that could be used to pay step raises for state workers. However, some lawmakers are skeptical that such a surplus exists.
WLDS/WEAI News caught up with State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer to get his thoughts on the matter and its potential impact on west central Illinois. First off however, Davidsmeyer explains what step raises are and how they work.
“The step raises were kind of set up so that you could have a person that starts in a position that may not have as much experience, and then they work their way up to the full wage of whatever that position is. So it could be eight different steps to work your way up to having the experience somebody’s has had, and that just kind of makes sure that somebody’s who’s brand new and might not be as good at it yet isn’t getting paid the same thing as someone who’s been around who has the knowledge and experience,” says Davidsmeyer.
As for possible ramifications or solutions, Davidsmeyer says a line item to resolve the issue could be included in the upcoming budget.
“I think it’s something that, if it wasn’t put in or allowed for in this year’s budget, it could be allowed in the upcoming budget, which will start July 1. But we’ve seen with the raises that Quinn couldn’t pay – actually the Speaker didn’t put enough money in the budget to allow him to do that. So basically, the Speaker said, ‘you can either let people go, or you can pay their raises, but I’m not going to let you do both.’ And that may be the case on this budget, there could be enough attrition, natural retirement and things like that, for there to be enough money in the budget to pay these step increases, but I doubt that will be the case,” Davidsmeyer says.
In regard to Rauner’s claim that of a $350-million dollar surplus in his budget, Davidsmeyer says he would need to take a closer look the governor’s budget proposal before making any predictions.
This isn’t the first time that paying step raises to state workers has been an issue. Davidsmeyer says state workers are still owed back-pay from 2011, when former Governor Pat Quinn failed to pay raises despite agreeing to do so in a contract.