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Sen. Forby and Rep. Phelps Fight Facility Closures With Petition and Legislation

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Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton)

Two state lawmakers from southern Illinois have started an online petition in support of three state facilities Governor Pat Quinn says he wants to close.

State Senator Gary Forby from Benton and State Representative Brandon Phelps of Harrisburg announced the ``Save State Jobs Now'' petition in a joint news release. Their website asks people to sign to keep open the Supermax Prison in Tamms, the Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro and the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia.

The lawmakers say more than 1,000 jobs could be lost in southern Illinois. They say the facilities are important to the local economy and closing them will devastate the communities.

Quinn included the southern Illinois facilities on a list of state institutions he would close to save the state about $90 million.

The petition can be found at www.savestatejobsnow.com.

Senator Forby is also sponsoring a bill to set up a panel and other steps to make it more difficult for the governor to shut down facilities such as the prisons at Tamms and Dwight, among dozens of places mentioned in the governor's budget speech last month.

AFSCME Council 31 director of political relations John Cameron  says the governor's actions in the past year make clear the need for a bill to make it more difficult to shut down state facilities.
 
Sheila Henretta is general counsel for the Governor's Office of Management and Budget. She argues this bill would slow down the budgeting process.
 
The bill has passed the Senate State Government and Veterans' Affairs Committee.