Ill. closures
9:43 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Quinn, legislative leaders reach deal to keep state facilities open

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn and the state's top four lawmakers have reached a deal to keep seven state facilities open until June.

Quinn had targeted mental health centers and centers and developmentally disabled, as well as a prison in Lincoln, for closure, saying the legislature had failed to appropriate enough money to operate them for the entire year.  The closures could have resulted in nearly 2,000 layoffs.

State budget director David Vaught said the $200 million cost of keeping the centers open for the next seven months will come from moving money around in the state's $33.2 billion operating budget. Details are still being worked out, but the Chicago Tribune reported that the plan is likely to be voted on tomorrow, the last day the Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to meet for its veto session.

Any measure will "be very clear that the facilities are to stay open pending any kind of orderly transition of those that may need to close in the future," state Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno told the Tribune. "We’ll avoid that chaos that we were afraid would happen with what the governor had proposed." The Tribune reports that the centers for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled will likely be closed in a few years as residents transition to community living.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents state workers, released the following statement on its Facebook page:

"AFSCME has worked for months on every legal, legislative and grassroots front to prevent all threatened layoffs and closures. While we have not seen the details of the agreement announced tonight, we believe it is a positive step toward saving jobs and averting harmful cuts to health care, prisons and other vital services.

The looming layoff of some 2,000 caregivers and prison workers would devastate local economies across Illinois. The closure of seven state facilities would undercut the state's commitment to mental health care, disability services and secure prisons. We hope this agreement will avert all layoffs and closures.

Our union will keep working to ensure that public services are protected, jobs are saved and the legally binding agreements we have reached at the bargaining table are fully honored."