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State job cuts, facility closures possible in Ill.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
Ill. gov. Pat Quinn says job reductions are possible to help the state close a record budget gap. Sources tell the Chicago Tribune that state facilities may also be closed.

Updated with comments from Quinn, unions and lawmakers.

Reporting from WBEZ's Sam Hudzik and Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford was used in this report.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says job reductions will be necessary to help Illinois deal with a record budget deficit.

Sources told the Chicago Tribune that thousands of state workers could receive layoff notices.

"The governor also intends to announce the closing of several state facilities, including a prison, juvenile detention center and homes for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, sources confirmed. Without action, Quinn's budget office says, several agencies would run out of money by the spring."

Quinn did not confirm those details during an appearance in Chicago on Tuesday - he says he'll unveil more details later this week. But he once again laid the blame squarely at the feet of the Illinois General Assembly.

"You know, we have to do what we have to do in order to make sure we get through this fiscal year with the appropriation that the General Assembly provided," Quinn said.

It's the same excuse Quinn used in July when he announced that he would not give state employees a two percent raise that was included their contract. The unions sued, and an arbitrator ruled in their favor, but did not decide the issue of whether Quinn's decision was constitutional.

That contract also included a pledge not to close any facilities or lay off any employees through the middle of next year.

Anders Lindall, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said another suit may be possible.

"Anytime somebody enters into  contract, you expect them to live up to it. And anytime somebody gives you their word, you expect them to keep it," Lindall said.

Republican lawmakers say Quinn's motivations are political.

"He knew when he signed the budget that, according to him, there was sufficient money in the budget to get us through the year," said state Senator Larry Bomke of Springfield. "So that would have been the appropriate time to call us back to address the issue."

Bomke says Quinn is trying to get the attention of lawmakers and pressure them into supporting his borrowing plan - which Bomke says he doesn't entirely oppose.

Another Republican senator - Matt Murphy of Palatine, near Chicago-  also sees political maneuvering.

"I hope Quinn is serious about reining in the cost of government," Murphy said. "My worst fear is this is sort of a political stunt on the part of the governor to go into areas represented by Republicans and dangle large job losses to try to pressure support for his almost $9 billion borrowing scheme," which Murphy opposes.

The closure of any state facility requires a public hearing and a recommendation by a bipartisan panel.

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