Rockford caregivers fighting Governor's delayed pay raise

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Rockford caregivers continue to fight for the money they say the state owes them after Governor Bruce Rauner delays the payments once again.

"Enough is enough Governor Rauner. Stop the illegal delays and follow the law," said Tim Williams, a personal assistant in Rockford.

Personal assistants, who care for people with disabilities through the Illinois Department of Human Services, wait for a 48-cent raise that was supposed to take effect last August. The pay bump was part of a bipartisan budget compromise to override a veto by Governor Bruce Rauner.

"48-cents may not seem like a great deal of money to some people, but for workers like me who only earn 13 dollars per hour, it means a lot," said Gerald Vaughan, a personal assistant in Rockford.

Governor Rauner's Office withheld the raise, arguing it wasn't mandatory and couldn't be implemented during contract negotiations with the Workers' Union. On March 13, a Cook County Judge ruled that decision illegal.

"We were so relieved and so grateful for this news. I had already started planning what I would do with my back pay," said Williams.

The judge ordered the raise to be put in place and back pay be given to caregivers by March 21, but the state filed an appeal putting the raise on hold.

“This is a waste of everyone's time and a waste of our taxpayer money to continue the pointless legal battles," said Felicia Jackson, a personal assistant in Rockford.

"We have a billionaire governor who is willing to fight individuals who are working at or below the federal poverty level. I will continue to fight as I have as a legislator to make sure people receive the economic justice that they deserve," said Illinois State Representative Litesa Wallace.

Litesa Wallace says when individuals stay in their home, we pay about one-third of what it costs for them to go into a nursing home, so this is actually a benefit to the state of Illinois and the issues that we face fiscally.

"Personal assistants save the state of Illinois hundreds of millions of dollars every year by keeping those in our care out of costly nursing home facilities. All we ask for in return is a little respect and the ability to support our families in the work we do," said Jackson.

23 News reached out the Governor's Office for comment. We haven't received a response at this time.