A decision made by Gov. Pat Quinn may leave thousands of state workers without a job by the end of the week.
The cuts are coming in the face of a budget deficit that doesn't leave enough money to pay the workers, the governor says. Quinn also plans to close a prison, juvenile detention center and homes for the mentally ill.
If no cuts are made, several agencies will run out of money by spring, Quinn says.
"We can't spend money we don't have," Quinn said Tuesday.
The state's largest government employee union, AFSCME, promises to sue if the layoffs are made, much like they did over blocked pay raises.
And just like the pay raise situation, Quinn says these layoffs aren't his fault.
The governor insists lawmakers didn't leave him enough money to keep the state operating for a whole year. Quinn has asked for $2.2 billion more and already has made partial vetoes to the Legislature's budget.
In July, Quinn responded to a growing labor impasse by saying the General Assembly didn't appropriate any extra money for raises and that his hands were tied.
"The law says that subject to appropriations, these raises would be given," Quinn said. "But the General Assembly did not appropriate the money, the millions of dollars to pay the raises."
When asked Tuesday to confirm the cuts mean thousands of jobs, Quinn said, "We have to do what we have to do."
At same time Quinn maintains, "our number one priority is jobs."