Back Wages Owed to State WorkersSPRINGFIELD – Two Illinois lawmakers are calling on the governor to stop dragging his feet on payments to the roughly 24,000 public employees who are owed back wages by the state.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Rep. Jerry Costello II (D-Smithton) sent a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner this week urging him to expedite the payment of $63.25 million in wages owed to the employees and reminding him lawmakers included money for the back payments in the state budget. The appropriation was included in House Bill 109, which received strong bipartisan support in the General Assembly.

As of this week, state agencies under the governor’s control have not submitted vouchers to the comptroller so the long-overdue wages can be paid.

“Gov. Rauner needs to get with the program,” Manar said. “The state Supreme Court has ruled this debt must be paid. Lawmakers of both parties agree the debt must be paid. The affected employees clearly want to be paid, and the comptroller is ready to cut the checks. The only person holding up the process is the governor.”

Rauner signed the state budget into law June 4. It went into effect July 1.

“Thousands of workers in my district and across the state have been waiting for money rightfully owed to them since 2011,” Costello said. “The measure to pay them was passed with overwhelming veto-proof bipartisan support in the General Assembly, and there is no reason that unnecessary government bureaucracy should continue to get in the way of giving our workers what they legally earned.”

The back wages are contractually obligated and are Illinois’ oldest unpaid bill. Employees who are owed compensation include correctional officers, caregivers for veterans and people with developmental disabilities, mental health professionals and others. The largest amount, nearly $41 million, is owed to workers with the state department of corrections, followed by the department of human services, which owes more than $17 million to its employees.

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