SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris) is the chief co-sponsor of new legislation filed Wednesday which would allow the comptroller to use unexpected revenue to finally pay $112 million in back wages for state workers and pay down the backlog of old bills.
Sen. Rezin was prompted to sign on as a chief co-sponsor for Senate Bill 3657 with State Senator Sam McCann due to the fact that state workers in the 38th Senate District are owed over $3.7 million.
“People all over the state have suffered at the hands of the failed leadership over the last ten years,” Sen. Rezin said. “This is another example of the state’s broken promises. So far, the state has been unable to keep its promises to taxpayers, but we now have a chance to do what we have said we were going to do – pay down the backlog of bills. It is common sense, it is fair and it is the right thing to do.”
Sen. McCann echoed Sen. Rezin’s comments saying, “It is simply shameful that the state hasn’t paid raises owed to thousands of state employees dating back to fiscal years 2012 and 2013,” said McCann. “It’s time our hardworking employees get the money they earned long ago. These wages represent the oldest of the state’s outstanding bills. This unexpected revenue can allow us to finally right this wrong.”
Multiple judges and arbitrators have ruled that the state owes approximately $112 million to employees. The Department of Corrections staff alone represents more than $82 million of the back-pay. Nearly $7.4 million is owed to employees in the 50th Senate District represented by Sen. McCann. Sen. McCann is a sponsor of a bill that was filed in 2013 to pay the wages. That legislation has been bottled up by Democrat leaders in the Senate and has not been called for a vote.
The most recent revenue forecasts from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability show the state bringing in $1.2 billion more revenue than expected. Senate Bill 3657 would appropriate $112 million of that money to pay the past due wages owed to state employees.
The legislation would direct the rest of the unexpected revenue, which would be around $1.1 billion, to be used to pay down the state’s backlog of old bills.
“It’s past time for the state to end its status as a deadbeat customer for the thousands of vendors it does business with,” said McCann. “This won’t eliminate the backlog, but it’s a step in the right direction. This money comes from one-time revenues, using it to pay these old bills, which are one-time costs, simply makes the most sense.”
Several areas of the state are affected by the back wages and lack of the state paying their bills as promised with the 67 percent tax increase. Sens. Rezin and McCann were joined with a handful of other legislators who urged passage of Senate Bill 3657.
“This is the oldest outstanding bill that the state has,” said State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville). “Unfortunately, since it is a payroll issue, it has to be re-appropriated unlike paying for a product. The majority party continues to drag their feet in honoring this court-ordered commitment. This bill would put the money in the budget for the current year and ensure that those who provided the service to our state are compensated as agreed.”
“The continued stalling of giving the back pay owed to our correctional officers already adds to the low morale experienced by our men and women in uniform,” State Senator Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville) said. Employees in Sen. Luechtefeld’s 58th Senate District are owed more than $10 million. “It is our hope that our legislation will correct this long-standing injustice and further bolster our support for our correctional employees who risk their lives on a daily basis.”
In 2010, Governor Pat Quinn and Democratic leaders promised their 67% income tax hike would be used to pay down the backlog of old bills. When the tax hike took effect, that total backlog stood at $7.9 billion. Despite $26 billion in new tax revenues, the Quinn administration has only reduced the total to $6.9 billion. Those bills represent money owed to elementary and secondary schools, universities, local governments, Medicaid providers and vendors who help care for citizens with the greatest needs.
Total back-pay owed by agency:
Department of Corrections – $82,845,100
Department of Human Services – $21,006,800
Department of Juvenile Justice – $5,619,000
Department of Public Health – $1,753,300
Department of Natural Resources – $1,000,100
Department of Human Rights – $30,000