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Quinn Reveals $1 Billion In Budget Cuts, Layoffs

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Gov. Pat Quinn used his new authority over the state budget on Friday to reduce spending cuts for programs that help abused children and other vulnerable Illinois residents while offering bad news for prison guards, college students and more.


The Democratic governor argued that even after slashing the budget, Illinois has a major hole in its budget and unmet needs in important services. The fairest way to change that is to raise the income tax, he said.

"We have cut. We have cut from here to kingdom come," Quinn said at a news conference. "We've done all this, but we have to deal with the fiscal reality that we have a revenue shortfall to pay our bills."

Lawmakers gave Quinn the job of deciding where to cut about $1 billion in spending and how to divvy up $3.4 billion in lump sums. Quinn offered his first explanation Friday of what he intends to do.

Much of the money available will be used to pay local organizations that provide child care, drug counseling and similar services on behalf of the state. They still face a reduction in state support but not the deep cuts that were once proposed.

Quinn also put money into the state's child-welfare agency and the State Board of Education, reversing some of the school cuts that were announced last week.

But Quinn said he still plans to eliminate about 2,600 jobs, including 1,000 at the Department of Corrections. That amounts to nearly 10 percent of the department's total work force.

Quinn chief of staff Jerome Stermer said one prison might be closed, others would be reduced in size and the number of inmates would be cut. He would provide no details.

Money for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which provides college scholarships, will be cut by more than half. As a result, the commission will not offer its Monetary Award Program next spring.

A major state-employee union said the latest cuts would cost Illinois thousands of jobs and harm education, health care and other vital services. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees rejected Quinn's call for negotiations over furloughs that might prevent some layoffs.

"Every Illinoisan must demand that lawmakers and the governor renounce these damaging cuts, commit to raising new revenue, and return to the Capitol as soon as necessary to fix this broken budget," said Henry Bayer, executive director of AFSCME Council 31.

Quinn's actions Friday were the latest twist in efforts to close an $11.6 billion budget deficit.

Quinn originally proposed filling the gap with spending cuts, budget maneuvers and a tax increase.

Legislators rejected the tax increase. That resulted in a stalemate that saw the state's new budget year begin on July 1 without a budget in place. Eventually, Quinn and the Legislature agreed on a plan to paper over the deficit by borrowing money, allowing bills to go unpaid and promising to make unspecified cuts.


Associated Press writer Christopher Wills reported from Springfield. Associated Press Writer David Mercer contributed from Champaign.


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