Quinn orders staffers to take furlough days

July 16, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Quinn claims the furlough days will save the state millions of dollars as it battles a massive $13 billion budget deficit.

Quinn said he is setting the bar for renewed negotiations with the much larger number of unionized state employees, while his election opponent, Republican State Senator Bill Brady, says the governor is playing politics.

"There'll be more administrative orders, this is number one, there's more to come," said Quinn.

Quinn insisted his emergency action was not related to criticism after reports that he increased the salaries of several dozen governor's office staff members.

In all, as many as 2,700 non-union state employees must take 24 days off without pay. The furloughs will amount to a 9.2% annual salary reduction that Quinn projects will save the state $18 million, all from his office's budget, during the next twelve months:

"The fiscal year '11, that we're now in our budget is 35% lower than when I started," said Quinn. "I will continue to cut if I have to."

The governor also announced the state will resume its effort to get unionized workers to accept mandatory furlough days. David Newman of AFSCME says the state's largest union will talk, but an agreement to accept unpaid days off is unlikely.

"The State of Illinois has a lower number of state employees per capita than any other state in the nation, and any further cut of services is inflicting real pain on the citizens of Illinois," said Newman.

When the Associated Press reported earlier this week that David Vaught, who was promoted to budget director under Quinn, and nearly three dozen other aides had received pay increases, Brady was sharply critical. Brady issued a statement ridiculing Quinn's order, calling it a response to political pressure.

"Today's fourteen hundredths of one per cent reduction out of a $13 billion budget gap shows Governor Quinn protects big government at all costs," Brady said in the statement.

The governor was not amused, repeating his charge that Brady voted against a measure to reduce the pay and expense accounts of lawmakers and accepted what Quinn called a "bonus" for performing extra duty in the state senate.

"58%of the time he doesn't even show up to vote," said Quinn. "He's happy to take his whole salary - a full salary of I think it's $78,000, and he even includes in that salary a $10, 326 bonus."

Brady's spokeswoman said the extra money was not a "bonus."

She called it a stipend based on the number of committee and leadership positions that the senator holds.

She also called the governor's charge that Brady missed 58% of senate votes "absolutely untrue," but she did not provide another percentage for missed votes.

Three-and-a-half months before the election provides lots of time for this campaign to get even uglier.

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