Area Lawmakers and Unions React to Governor's Prison Closure Announcement
Union leaders and area lawmakers are blasting Governor Pat Quinn's plan to close the Tamms Supermax Prison, the Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro and an adult transition center in Carbondale.
During a news conference Wednesday outside Lt. Governor Sheila Simon's Carbondale office, State Representatives Mike Bost and Brandon Phelps along with State Senator Gary Forby joined with correctional officers to urge Quinn to sign the budget which includes money to keep these facilities open.
Bost says the governor's insistence on these closures means he is going back on his word. He says lawmakers were led to believe if they voted for certain bills, the governor would approve the budget to keep these facilities open.
Phelps says he views the governor's action as an attack on southern Illinois...specifically Alexander County...home of the Tamms prison.
The lawmakers say the ball is in Quinn's court because he has the constitutional right to veto the budget and close the facilities. They're hoping public pressure will help change the governor's mind.
Governor Quinn's prison closure plan has some wondering if he is using this as a negotiating tool.
Representative Phelps says it's not a pleasant thought, but it's possible the governor wants some concessions from the unions with AFSCME negotiations underway and he's possibly seeking more votes from lawmakers to approve pension reforms.
Over 400 could be laid off if Governor Pat Quinn closes the Tamms Supermax Prison, the Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro and an adult transition center in Carbondale.
The closing could take place by August 31.
Laborers Local 773 business manager Kevin Starr says if the governor is trying to use these jobs as leverage, he's playing a dangerous game because these are the people who helped get him elected.
Meanwhile, some union leaders say the governor may be targeting southern Illinois because he did not win more counties in the area in 2010.