Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's plan to shutter 14 state facilities could come with an even broader economic impact than originally expected.
According to the Associated Press, the 2,300 jobs that the governor admitted would be lost with the facilities' closures included only the state jobs themselves and did not account for the "ripple" effect on the communities surrounding them. They also were only based on data from 8 of the 14 prisons, mental health centers and other facilities.
Before the facilities can be closed, new impact statements, taking into account these "ripple" job losses, will need to be filed, the AP reports.
Union workers throughout the state last week protested the governor's proposed facility closures and consolidations, with protesters gathering outside the governor's Chicago office and executive Springfield mansion with signs reading "No Quinn Cuts" and "Defend Human Services," according to the Chicago Tribune.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents many impacted state workers, this month launched their "No Quinn Cuts" campaign, which is aimed at nullifying the planned cuts.
"[Quinn] says his first priority is jobs, but his budget plan would wipe out thousands of good jobs in communities across the state," a statement announcing the campaign read. "Gov. Quinn wants to eliminate nearly 3,000 middle class jobs by cutting prisons, parole agents and state police that keep us safe, and by reducing mental health and developmental disability services for the most vulnerable among us."
In response to the statewide day of action, the governor described the cuts as "hard but necessary," and added that "we need to stop being in denial" about the state's financial health -- or lack thereof, NBC Chicago reports.
In addition to facing criticism from public employee unions, the planned closures have also been panned by state lawmakers who represent the communities where the facilities are located.
State Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton) last week introduced legislation (Senate Bill 3564) aimed at limiting the governor's power to unilaterally identify which state facilities should close and which should remain open, the GateHouse News Service reported. The Tamms "supermax" Correctional Center is located in Forby's district.
"All legislators have something in their district," Forby told the GateHouse. "They ought to have a say-so."
A new study, conducted by University of Illinois researchers, painted the concerns of state lawmakers representing districts impacted by the closures in even broader strokes. The closures of just two state prisons -- at Tamms and Dwight -- would "blow an $86 million hole in the economy of the two regions," the Pantagraph reports. AFSCME has estimated the statewide economic impact of the 14 facilities' closures at more than $250 million.
Quinn's budget proposal, introduced last month, outlined plans to close prisons in Tamms and Dwight, juvenile justice centers in Joliet and Murphysboro and adult transition centers statewide, in addition to four mental health institutions.
State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville) commented last month that he felt the facility closures were not being evenly distributed throughout the state.
"Again," Luechtefeld said, "it seems that downstate facilities are bearing the burden of 10 years of bad decisions by Govs. Blagojevich and Quinn."
Hearings on the planned closures will be held in Springfield over the coming weeks.
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. Learn more