Quinn announces state layoffs, closures

September 8, 2011 4:12:16 PM PDT
Governor Pat Quinn announced Thursday that 1,938 state workers will be laid off and seven state facilities will close.

The Tinley Park Mental Health Center is the only facility affected in the Chicago area. It has 75 beds and a staff of nearly 200.

The tough economic measures would save nearly $55 million, according to the governor.

The governor blames lawmakers, claiming legislative budget cuts are behind the layoffs and closings.

Quinn says he has begun the process of notifying state workers about the layoffs and closing the facilities. But some suggest this is simply an elaborate game of chicken between the governor and the state's legislative leaders

"I would say to our friends in the Illinois General Assembly, it's time for a rendezvous with reality. And if you vote for something in the spring, don't run away from it in the fall," said Quinn.

Quinn underscored his bleak budget news with a harsh reality. As the budget stands now some state agencies will begin to run out of money in late April.

"This is what the General Assembly budget required. They did not appropriate enough money to maintain the existing facilities we have or the existing state employees that we have," he said.

"He said his agencies have spending authority to make it until April, May or even June. So there is no reason for these threats today," said Anders Lindall, American Federal, State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

The governor and legislative leaders could still find another way to close their $300 million divide. After all, these cuts only cover a fraction of it. But the appetite for compromise is tainted by the fact Quinn pushed for and received a hike in the income tax.

Yet, the state still has 149,000 unpaid bills totally nearly $4 billion.

"You just heard the Governor lament it is still not enough?it will never be enough for them. You give Governor Quinn and his allies in Springfield more money, they will find a way to spend it," said State Sen. Matt Murphy, (R) Palatine.

State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka pays the state's bills. She says both sides are to blame for this budgetary brinksmanship that doesn't even address the biggest drain on the state treasury.

"I don't think people realize that the majority of that income tax was claimed right out of the box, which is for our fastest growing program which is Medicaid. It's like Pac Man eating through that budget like crazy. Chomp, chomp, chomp," said Baar Topinka.

Quinn says barring a big breakthrough when the legislature returns in October, the cuts should take effect by January 1. Even with all those layoffs and cuts, there's still a $259 million discrepancy between what Quinn says he needs to spend and what the General Assembly has allocated.

The list of the seven state facilities Quinn has targeted for closure due to Illinois' budget deficit and the number of workers at each location, according to the governor's office:

-- Tinley Park Mental Health Center - 195 staff members

-- Singer Mental Health Center - 150 staff members

-- Chester Mental Health Center - 464 staff members

-- Jacksonville Developmental Center - 420 staff members

-- Jack Mabley Developmental Center - 163 staff members

-- Logan Correctional Center - 270 security guards and 87 non-security workers

-- Illinois Youth Center-Murphysboro - 101 staff members

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