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Amid Budget Agreement, State Workers to Get Long-Overdue Backpay

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

As part of the new Illinois budget, some 24,000 state workers will get paid for salary increases they were supposed to get as far back as 2011.

AFSCME says it agreed to temporarily defer annual raises after the 2008 financial crisis. The union later negotiated increases that were supposed to start in 2011, but the General Assembly never approved the spending — until now.

Matt Lukow works for the Illinois Department of Corrections. He says he’s owed a few thousand dollars.

“I feel like we kind of gave the state a loan for seven years," Lukow said of the wage deferment. "All of our people[s] continued to work the same as they always have. It’s just, you know, we had this nagging wonder of when we were gonna finally receive the money that we were owed.”

Lukow says finally having the money in hand will be a welcome relief.

"I’ve been putting off some home improvement stuff that I’ll be able to take care of now,” he explained.

When Governor Bruce Rauner signed the budget on Monday, he called the years-long delay “unfair and not right.” But the backpay is not the only money AFSCME members are owed. Rauner and the legislature are not approving money for longevity raises known as step increases.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.