Doug Finke, State Journal-Register
8 months ago Doug Finke, State Journal-Register
Hundreds of employees would be laid off and state facilities would close, directors said
From Doug Finke, State Journal-Register:Hundreds of employees would be laid off, state facilities would be closed and thousands of prison inmates released without supervision, state agency directors told senators Friday during a hearing to gauge the effect of possibly severe spending cuts next year.During a more than three-hour joint hearing of the two Senate Appropriations committees, agency after agency warned of drastic consequences should they be forced to cut their current budgets by 20 percent.“There would be extreme consequences for the economy across Illinois,” warned Ben Winick of Gov. Pat Quinn's budget office. “Over a dozen state facilities would have to close. Thousands of state employees would have to be laid off.”The hearing occurred just days before Quinn is scheduled to finally deliver his budget outline for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Although the administration has been mum about details of what Quinn will propose, Friday's hearing could provide some insight.Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, has estimated the next budget will have a $2.9 billion hole that will have to be filled. About $1.6 billion of that is from the expiration of a major part of the temporary income tax hike at the end of 2014. The rest is from increased expenses the state has no control over, like more money to meet contractual pay raises, increased Medicaid expenses and higher pension payments.Senate Democrats, who estimate that will require 20 percent reductions in state agency budgets, invited agency officials to detail Friday what those kinds of cuts would do to their operations.Department of Corrections Director S.A. “Tony” Godinez said 11 correctional centers would have to close and more than 15,000 inmates would have to be released. A budget cut that drastic would result in more than 3,000 layoffs, he said.Department of Juvenile Justice Acting Director Candice Jones said two facilities would have to close and 263 staff members would lose their jobs.Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau said 30 percent of the state's force would lose their jobs. Crime lab work would be seriously delayed or not done at all, he added.The Department of Human Services testified that more than 1,000 jobs would be cut in its various departments. In addition, rates paid to community care providers of the developmentally disabled would have to be slashed, possibly resulting in violation of various court decrees the department operates under. Basic family welfare grants would have to be reduced and additional state facilities closed.