SPRINGFIELD - Nearly 9,000 state workers are getting an early Christmas present.
After forgoing raises for three years, the state's non-union workforce was notified Friday they would receive 4 percent wage hikes.
The cost to taxpayers is an estimated $14 million, said Abby Ottenhoff, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
In a letter to the workers, the governor said workers have gone "above and beyond the call of duty" to keep state government operating at a time when he was cutting more than 12,500 employees.
"I want you to know how grateful I am for your hard work and sacrifice," Blagojevich wrote.
Ottenhoff said the workers have actually been working for less money in recent years because a larger portion of their paycheck has been going toward their pensions.
"People have taken on more responsibility," said Ottenhoff. "Now we can afford to recognize their efforts."
The hike affects non-university state workers who are not members of labor unions.