Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday that he’s close to a deal with lawmakers that would keep seven state facilities open through the end of the budget year and prevent 1,900 layoffs.
Quinn said his office has been working with legislative budget leaders on a plan that would stop the closures if lawmakers agree to uphold roughly $225 million in vetoes he made this summer. That money was set aside for things like school transportation and hospital bills, but would instead be shifted around to keep the facilities open through at least next June.
“I am very optimistic,” Quinn said. “I think we’re very, very close and we’ve got to get this done right.”
The idea is that lawmakers would vote on the matter when they return to Springfield the week after Thanksgiving, though Quinn and others caution it’s not yet a done deal.
“We are reviewing options with all caucuses to accomplish the goal of keeping facilities open for the remainder of the year,” said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago.
If approved, the facilities in line for a reprieve include the Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, the Illinois Youth Center, a juvenile prison in far southern Illinois, mental health centers in Tinley Park, Rockford and Chester, and centers for the developmentally disabled in Jacksonville and Dixon.
Most of the layoffs planned by Quinn would be stopped, though it’s likely pink slips would stand for a handful of workers in agencies such as Department of Agriculture.
While the mental health centers and homes for the developmentally disabled would not close immediately, Quinn still plans to close a number of the facilities over the next several years in what the administration refers to a “rebalancing” of social service dollars.
The proposal would move 600 residents out of developmentally disabled facilities over the next two-and-a-half years, transferring them from institutions to community-based settings. During that time, as many as four state-run centers for the developmentally disabled would be closed, said Quinn spokeswoman Brie Callahan.
A similar plan is in place for those living in mental health centers, with those seeking more acute short-term care being transferred to nearby hospitals. The state would then close at least two mental health centers, with those needing long term care still being housed in state-run facilities.
“We have to do this in a way that’s carefully done, that works with the community, that works with the family members,” Quinn said.