Budget impasse has state workers, agencies facing uncertain future

State employees in Illinois are wondering when they’ll get paid next.

A Cook County judge ruled that Gov. Bruce Rauner couldn’t keep paying state employees during the budget impasse.

The state House is in session today to consider a one-month $2.3-billion spending plan while talks continue.

Rauner says he opposes the stop-gap measure, but he’ll set aside his distaste for tax increases and approve one if the legislature approves his business friendly reforms.

Democrats are pushing for limited cuts, and a tax hike to fund the budget Rauner already vetoed.

They say Rauner’s plans for restricting liability lawsuit awards and workers’ compensation go against their core beliefs.

As the political divide grows wider in Springfield the budget impasse is already taking a toll on workers in southern Illinois, where more than 9,000 state employees live.

"Every person that works for the state of Illinois is concerned at this moment, and it didn't take this budget crisis to make that so,” said Eddie Caumiant, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Council 31 director. “We've been grappling with some pretty difficult issues for quite a long period of time.”

While Caumiant works to figure out how the latest ruling will impact AFSCME Council 31 members, Centerstone CEO John Markley says he has already laid off 14 employees, and lost $2 million due to the budget impasse.

"We're band-aiding some of these things and put them together to make sure that the services are there for people. But I'll tell you, it's getting very difficult,” said Markley. “It won't take very long for not only our agency, but for other agencies that are smaller agencies to go out of business."

While the budget impasse has left many workers facing an uncertain future, Caumiant and Markley feel a deal can still be reached before it’s too late.

"It may be a situation where it forces people to make a decision because there is more political pressure," said Markley.

"There's still some time for cooler heads to prevail and a budget deal to be reached," said Caumiant.

Because Rauner had promised to keep paying state employees during the budget impasse, workers are guaranteed to get their paychecks through July 15 despite the judge’s ruling.

AFSCME Council 31 is appealing the Cook County judge’s ruling based on the fact that state workers were paid without a budget in 2007 due to clause in their collective bargaining agreement.

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