CHICAGO (CBS) — Governor Pat Quinn continues to defend his efforts to block a negotiated pay raise for state employees.

An independent arbitrator ruled last week that the decision is a violation of the contract between the state and its unionized workers.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports

In ordering the state to restore pay hikes for nearly 30,000 employees, arbitrator Edwin Benn ruled that if the state could just decide not to pay negotiated raises, multiyear collective bargaining agreements would essentially be dead.

Governor Quinn says there’s no money in the budget for the raises. He said it’s up to state lawmakers to appropriate more money to pay for them.

“For the people in the union, they should talk to their legislators,” Quinn said.

But, when pressed, the governor admitted he feels the state needs to spend money on essential services. He says the issue is whether Illinois can pay its workers at all–let alone raises.

The governor spoke after signing bills to boost high-tech jobs in Illinois.

Watch & Listen LIVE