State to move forward with layoffs

September 4, 2009 6:57:15 AM PDT
The governor's office intends to move forward with plans to lay off state workers after its largest union refused to reopen its contract. Representatives from Gov. Pat Quinn's office and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 met for several hours Thursday in Springfield.

Quinn spokeswoman Ashley Cross says they wanted AFSCME to reopen its contract to consider concessions, such as unpaid furlough days and a pay freeze.

AFSCME Executive Director Henry Bayer says the proposed concessions would cut workers' pay by up to 15 percent and would still result in 1,000 layoffs.

To help deal with a huge budget deficit, Quinn has proposed 2,600 layoffs, including many in Illinois' prisons.

"We're in dire straights," said Gov. Quinn

"It's not safe. We're burning out our members. It's costing us more...that we wouldn't have to pay if we'd just hire enough staff," said Aders Lindall, AFSCME.

Money to fund college scholarships is also being cut. But Quinn says he has no choice.

"These are not wasteful cuts, they're painful cuts," said State Sen. Kwame Raoul, (D) Chicago.

The cuts include

  • 185 million from the state's operating budget
  • 140 million from Medicaid and state health insurance programs
  • 250 million in some state grants
  • 175 million from education
  • and 125 million from corrections
  • Governor Quinn said the legislature left it up to him to make the tough choices, while still refusing his call to increase the state's income tax.

    "We have to deal with fiscal reality. That we have a revenue shortfall to pay our bills. We have a $3.9 billion shortfall we have to pay. We're a deadbeat state," said Gov. Quinn.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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