Checks went out to more than 900 state workers Wednesday to cover back pay they've been owed since 2011.
Comptroller Susana Mendoza's said the checks were issued to workers at the Department of Public Health. Mendoza posted on social media that Public Health was the first state agency to issue vouchers to her office enabling the money to be paid.
"As soon as other agencies submit vouchers, we will get the back pay checks out quickly," she said.
Rauner's office said some agencies are working through "technical issues" to get the back pay out.
"Our intention is to have all the issues resolved and have all the vouchers delivered for payment next month," said Rauner spokeswoman Patty Schuh. "We are working to get employees the money they are due as quickly as possible."
An estimated 24,000 state workers are owed pay dating back to 2011. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said the workers are employed in the departments of Corrections, Juvenile Justice, Human Services, Natural Resources and Public Health. The union said the back pay averages about $2,500 per worker.
Lawmakers included $63 million in the current state budget to take care of the back wages, which they described as the state's oldest outstanding bill. Including the money got strong support from both parties.
The issue stems from 2011 when former Gov. Pat Quinn said lawmakers did not appropriate enough money to cover 2 percent raises for thousands of AFSCME members in 14 state agencies. Quinn said that without an authorization by lawmakers to spend money, the state could not pay the raises to those workers.
Since then, through various money-saving efforts, the state did come up with the money to cover raises for thousands of the people initially affected. However, 24,000 never got their back pay.
AFSCME won an arbitrator's ruling that the raises had to be paid. However, the state Supreme Court agreed with state officials that the money couldn't be paid without an appropriation by the General Assembly. Money was included in an appropriation bill in 2016, but Rauner vetoed the bill and lawmakers did not override him.
Back pay is a separate issue from step increases that are owed to thousands of AFSCME members. That issue is currently before the Illinois Labor Relations Board. AFSCME accused the administration of dragging its feet in complying with a court order to grant the increases.