Bruce Rauner

On First Day, Pritzker Grants Raises to Some State Union Employees

The move raised questions from critics about how the state will afford it

Newly elected Gov. J.B. Pritzker began his first work day in office on Monday by granting pay raises to state union employees that former Gov. Bruce Rauner denied four years ago.

The move raised questions from critics about how the state will afford it.

Surrounded by labor leaders and supporters, one of Pritzker's first decisions as governor allows some state workers to get their step pay hikes.

It is estimated it will impact 15,000 AFSCME workers and cost about $415 million.

"It’s very important for us to establish on day one that this is a very different kind of administration and that we're focusing on lifting up working families," Pritzker said. 

State Rep. Will Davis said he realizes there will be critics.

"These people are working very hard to provide these services in the state," Davis said, "and sometimes, you know, pay is associated with morale, and we want to keep the morale high in the state."

Pritzker and his family have moved in to the Governor's Mansion. On Monday night he held a private celebration after a lavish inaugural party with Maroon 5 as the surprise entertainment.

Pritzker paid for the party but won’t say how much he spent.

"We simply wanted everybody to have a good time after the new administration had taken office," he said, "and we're launching in today with standing up for working families and making sure we're doing what's right for them.”

Pritzker is already promising there will not be a budget impasse and said he will lay out those budget plans in his first major speech to the General Assembly in five weeks.

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