February 09, 2017

Rauner vows to veto state employee pay bill

AFSCME has been working to pass legislation, HB 1798, to maintain state payrolls even if the court order the union won to keep employees paid during the budget standoff is dissolved.

But in a video emailed to all state workers today, Governor Bruce Rauner now vows he will veto that bill.

It was just a few weeks ago that Rauner was attacking Attorney General Lisa Madigan for seeking to dissolve the court order and pledging to work “tirelessly” to keep paychecks coming. But apparently the governor tires very easily, as he is now coming out squarely against the legislation to ensure that employees would be paid.

Like so many of Bruce Rauner’s pledges, this one has proved empty. Instead of working to ensure employees are paid, the governor is doing his best to sabotage the best prospect for making sure that happens.

He goes on to tout another bill sponsored by his Republican allies that, in Rauner’s words, would make sure state employees are paid “like legislators.”

It’s not clear if the governor is just confused or purposely trying to mislead employees yet again. In reality, as a result of the budget standoff, legislators are now being paid six months late! In January they got paychecks that were due last June. That’s not a road state employees want to go down.

AFSCME believes employees AND legislators should be paid on time and in full. The best way to achieve that goal is for Gov. Rauner to fulfill his duty to the people of this state—to put forth and work diligently to enact a state budget—without roping it to his own personal agenda.

AFSCME and a dozen other unions representing state workers will be in St. Clair County Court on February 16 to oppose the Attorney General’s attempt to dissolve the court order that is keeping employees paid.  But we know that whatever happens there, the present situation is untenable.

Next week the governor is due to present a budget plan for fiscal year 2018. If he introduces a budget, helps pass it and signs it into law on schedule this spring, state payroll will continue as scheduled.

However, the court order could be lifted at any time and state employee pay put in jeopardy. That’s why it’s critical to pass HB 1798 now. If the governor genuinely wants to avert a shutdown, he should urge his Republican allies in the General Assembly to vote to send it to his desk and then he should promptly sign it into law.

Just as important, if Bruce Rauner genuinely wants to keep Illinois working, he should cease his hostilities against state workers, return to the bargaining table, and work constructively to reach a fair contract settlement.

Illinois’ bond rating has just been downgraded again, with the rating agency laying the blame directly on Governor Rauner’s doorstep. Slamming the door in the face of those with whom he disagrees is no way to make public policy or treat one’s own employees. It’s time to open the door to a saner, safer Illinois—before it is too late.

Related News