Quinn to Lay Off Nearly 2,000 Workers

Gov. Pat Quinn made a play Thursday to lay off nearly 2,000 state workers and close seven state facilities as part of state budget cuts.

Closures would include the Tinley Park Mental Health Center and Logan Correctional Center, as well as mental health centers in Rockford and Chester, centers for the developmentally disabled and the Illinois Youth Center.

Quinn said the cuts are necessary to work within a budget shortfall that doesn't leave enough money to pay state workers or keep agencies running through the year.

But it's not his fault, he says, again pointing to lawmakers who sent him a budget that was about $2 billion less than he needed.

"I would say to our colleagues in the General Assembly ... it's time for a rendezvous with reality," Quinn said.

He insisted Thursday that lawmakers re-allocate the much-needed money when they return to Springfield next month for the fall session.
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"I can't wait until some time in the future and hope money comes from re-allocation, the federal government or somewhere else," Quinn said. "We can't run out of money in April, May or June. That wouldn't be responsible."

Anders Lindall of AFSCME, the state's largest government employee union, also called for lawmakers to re-allocate the money. "Make no mistake, these cuts would cause great harm," Lindall said.

It's especially hard to consider losing jobs on a day when President Barack Obama is speaking of saving jobs, he said.

GOP State Sen. Matt Murphy says he won't criticize spending cuts but questioned how many of the cuts are in districts that would make them political payback. The layoffs represent only one percent of the budget, he said. 

As for Illinois residents, they're concerned about what's ahead.

"It's taken many years to get us here," said resident Ray Jast on his way to work Thursday morning. "In one sense you can sympathize with Quinn, but you know, Quinn and the other people in the Assembly have been part of the problem for a long time."

"I don't feel that people should be fired and laid off for mismanagement of money," said commuter Andrea Cesaro.

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