BudgetWatch: What the AFSCME ruling means for humans services in IL

March 25, 2016

by Dan Frey, Director of Government Relations

Good afternoon, everyone! I just wanted to take a quick moment to update you on the March 24 Illinois Supreme Court ruling on AFSCME back pay, and how that might affect the budget process moving forward.

The ruling dealt with an issue that arose back in 2011, in which former Governor Pat Quinn refused to give AFSCME workers a wage increase that had been contained within their contract. He stated that the General Assembly had not appropriated enough funds for that wage increase, and thus he simply could not give them those funds. AFSCME believed that their contract with the state was binding, and thus, regardless of appropriation, they were owed those funds.

The Supreme Court ruled on March 24 that Governor Quinn was correct: there is no back pay owed to AFSCME workers because, regardless of a contract signed, the General Assembly holds the power of the purse, and thus without sufficient appropriations, the Governor’s hands were tied.

Why is this significant to us and the current budget fiasco? Last spring, Governor Rauner’s administration sent out contracts to agencies (AFC included) for services that stated we would be paid, subject to appropriation, for services rendered once a budget was passed. Putting aside whether or not we will have a budget to fund those contracts soon, the Supreme Court’s ruling seems to suggest that they view any and all contracts entered into by the Executive Branch, without the Legislative Branch’s appropriations to match, as moot. AFC and other key human service providers are assessing what this ruling could mean for our FY16 contracts and moving forward for FY17; we are developing a coordinated strategy. Stay tuned.

About the blog

BudgetWatch is a weekly update from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago's on-the-ground team in Springfield about the state's longstanding budget impasse. Follow along at

Categorized under BudgetWatch.

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