Posts Tagged ‘Quinn’s proposed closures’

Governor Pat Quinn just signed the State budget cuts and still plans to close prisons despite IDOC inmate overcrowding, poor prison conditions and now natural disaster strikes due to weather conditions! What’s next?

Storm damage forces inmate transfer from Dixon

“…SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Storm damage forced the transfer of dozens of maximum-security, mentally ill inmates Saturday, leaving the Dixon prison locked down with emergency generators providing power and prompting the correctional workers’ union to raise more questions about the practicality of Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to close penitentiaries in a severely crowded system.

The Department of Corrections transferred 78 inmates from Dixon to segregated cells at the maximum-security Pontiac Correctional Center after severe weather that rolled through north-central Illinois Friday night ripped up roofs and caused other “significant” damage, spokeswoman Stacey Solano said…”

The IL Senate sent the official budget bills to Governor Pat Quinn yesterday, and Quinn is now announcing that he want to going to go ahead and move money from the IL corrections budget to avoid cuts to DCFS.

Quinn to cut prison funding in hopes of helping DCFS

Quinn has angered a lot of state representatives, particularly downstate reps by what they perceive is a threat to continue to close prison facilities in an attempt to manipulate them into agreeing to pension reform. However, Quinn’s announcement today that he wants to go ahead to close facilities in order to save an already overburdened IL Department of Children and Family Services from additional cuts puts pressure on state legislators to quell their protests due to the dire shape that DCFS is already in:

The $33.7 billion budget landed on the governor’s desk Friday, and he plans to act on it Saturday morning. Quinn told the Tribune he plans to veto spending lawmakers dedicated to several prisons he plans to close.

The administration says it will shut the supermaximum prison near Tamms in far southern Illinois, the Dwight Correctional Center in central Illinois and juvenile justice centers in Joliet and Murphysboro. Two transitional centers for inmates will close, but the administration has reversed course and plans to leave open one on Chicago’s West Side.

“…About half of the lawmakers’ cut would force the agency to reduce its staff of 2,900 by about 12 percent, or 375 workers. The remainder of the cut would eliminate contracts that provide services to children and families, the agency said. The budget trims by lawmakers came on top of a $35.3 million reduction Quinn had proposed.

The Tribune has reported that the caseloads for DCFS investigators are often double what they should be and in violation of critical terms of a 1991 federal consent decree that sets monthly limits on new cases for investigators. The agency also is failing to inspect more than half of the state’s day care facilities on an annual basis as required by law, the Tribune found…”

The pressure will be on legislators during the fall veto session in November to decide which is the greater public area of concern: prisons or children? If they follow Quinn’s direction, legislators will approve Quinn moving the money to DCFS from prison facilities which will already be closed by then:

“…In November, we’re going to have to support our reductions, and the Legislature may try to override it,” the governor said. “But we are going to lay out a stark choice: Is it protecting children or is it maintaining facilities that don’t need to be open?”

As we anticipated, Quinn is not listening to the input of others when it comes to his plan to trim state government in IL. Despite widespread pain and outrage, it looks like Quinn is moving forward to close as many of the 59 state facilities he early this year announced plans to close as he can get away with closing. Quinn seems to be trying for a quick and sizable reduction in state government while he can get it without much opposition.

Perhaps Quinn is trying to flex some muscle having received widespread acknowledgement for his apparent willingness to tackle tough financial issues such as Medicaid and pension reform during the recent legislative session. Many remarked the appearance of a “new Quinn” in his taking a leadership role in working to resolve the state fiscal crisis. Now, Quinn appears to be going full steam ahead on his own.

Quinn first played coy by raising hopes that he would avoid closing correctional facilities and possibly turn Tamms super-maximum security lockup into a lower-security prison in order to alleviate prison overcrowding and reduce costs:

Finke: Quinn coy on facility closings-PJStar article

Tamms likely won’t remain a

Yesterday and today Quinn made it plain that he has no plans for Tamms except closure. Via simple memo to state facilities yesterday, Quinn showed his disregard for any half-measures and the concerns of many state legislators as well as the recommendations of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA). Quinn simply notified state staff that that he will proceed with the closure of not only Tamms prison, but also the women’s prison at Dwight, the Murphysboro Youth Center, and the Westside and the Southern Illinois Adult Transitional Centers, by August 31, 2012.

Quinn confirms Decatur facility to close with state prisons – Herald-Review article

Illinois Gov. Quinn moving ahead with Tamms prison closing and

The Peoria and Chicago Crossroads Adult Transitional Centers are spared the axe for now.

Reaction from the unions and state legislators who just sent Quinn a state budget with sufficient funding to avoid the closures of these facilities was quick and furious, particularly from downstate legislators who feel Quinn’s actions are particularly harmful to their constituents:

State Facilities to

Quinn Announces Prison Closures In

Unions and lawmakers push back on facility closures-Illinois Issues Blog

Quinn closing prisons against lawmakers’

“…if the governor wants to show he is serious about getting the state to live within its means, he should focus on all of the waste and mismanagement that occurs in Springfield and Chicago on a daily basis before handing out pink slips to all the employees at Tamms,” Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Democrat from Harrisburg, said in a written statement…”

Approximately 720 state employees will be affected with some having a chance to move to other positions. As Kurt Erickson, a reporter who covers correctional issues in-depth reports, IDOC is going to have to expend a lot of manpower first in order to get every inmate moved appropriately before the state will begin to realize any savings the Quinn administration claims the facility closures will produce:

Dwight closure to trigger musical chairs for

Quinn’s office apparently only decided that it needed to explain more clearly why it is going ahead with these facility closures after a posturing attack by IL Treasurer Dan Rutherford:

Treasurer Dan Rutherford sent out a press release…

“I do not agree with Governor Quinn’s apparent final decision to close seven state correctional facilities and youth centers in the near future. Closing prisons will only exacerbate the overcrowding we face in Illinois with our prison population. Overcrowded prisons pose a real danger to employees and local communities. I took a similar stand back in 2008 when the previous governor abruptly suggested closing multiple state facilities without a comprehensive plan. As a state senator, I proposed legislation that would have put into place long-range strategic planning on certain facility closures. I am again calling on the state to implement business principles by having strategic long-range plans for its major state facility assets.”

Quinn’s budget office response to Rutherford today:

The Department of Juvenile Justice has a declining population of youth which means the state no longer needs eight state detention facilities. We have chosen which facilities to close based on the needs of our youth. In the case of Murphysboro, there is another IYC facility nearby in Harrisburg. Also, the facility has the capacity for 256 youth and currently houses less than 20.

In the case of Joliet, the physical plant does not provide the rehabilitative environment that our youth need. A more rehabilitative model of juvenile justice where youth are served and supported in the community instead of being incarcerated has been shown to result both in safer communities and better outcomes for our youth.

Tamms is only half full and very costly to operate with an average inmate cost of more than three times any other prison in the state. Approximately $64,800 compared to $21,405. The security level at Tamms for high level offenders can be safely replicated at other existing facilities. Closed Maximum security inmates will be transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center and Menard Correctional Center. These facilities will be able to supply the level of security needed for these inmates without compromising safety for staff or inmates. Tamms minimum security inmates will be relocated appropriately throughout other facilities around the state.

Dwight is located within 22 miles of Pontiac Correctional Center, 45 miles from Stateville Correctional Center, and 45 miles from Sheridan Correctional Center. Dwight houses women, and the female prison population is trending down. Between 2005 and 2011 IDOC female prison admissions decreased 41%.

Overall, these closures will allow the state to better live within our means and address the state’s most pressing

Commenters are already pointing out a few criticisms of Quinn’s justifications above for closing these state facilities pointing out:

the prisons listed around Dwight house MALE, not FEMALE inmates, so even if women inmates numbers are reduced. Dwight inmates still have to be moved about 90 miles away to Logan, and this one;

– Use Common Sense – Wednesday, Jun 20, 12 @ 9:39 am:

If Governor Quinn was doing what was right for Illinois he would have chosen facilities that were old and in need of repairs. Take IYC St. Charles and IYC Pere Marquette as examples. They are in need of a lot of repairs. Plus, if you are doing right by the youth ask them where they would rather be housed. Most probably would say Murphysboro cause it is a newer facility and nice. He can’t say he is doing this to save money cause if that were true he would keep newer facilities open and close old ones. Plus the IYC in Chicago is not even owned by the State. They pay rent on that facility just to run it, over a million a year. Nothing gets said about that. All politics. All about where you live in the state. Has nothing to do with saving money. If you believe that, you are just as bad as Quinn.-Capitolfaxblog

It will be interesting (but unlikely) to see if anyone is able to change Quinn’s mind before August 31st concerning these closures. If Quinn is pushing ahead to close facilities where funding was allocated then there is little doubt that he will also move ahead to close down the rest of the state agency facilities he has threatened to close. Initial responses to his actions are disbelief and the speculation that Quinn is up to his old tactic of threatening closures as a ploy to gain leverage in other negotiations with state legislators. In this case, speculation is rampant that since Quinn did not get legislators to give him all that he wants in state pension reforms, that he will only halt these closures if legislator leaders are able to agree with him on pension changes this summer, before the fall legislative session starts and confusion reigns. Perhaps these facility closures are just pawns in the process to Quinn, but if so, employing an old strategy of pressure again is likely to cost Quinn the good will he won for legislators in the Spring session. As many are now pointing out these closure facilities will end up hurting Quinn and the democrats too. The facility closures target Southern Illinois counties directly, including the poorer ones where it counts. Voters in those counties will not forgive Quinn or the democrats if the closures occur.

The IL legislature is sending IL Governor Pat Quinn a 2012 budget which includes funding to continue operation of all the facilities which Quinn proposed closing in order to save the State money. The Pantagraph article below summarizes the situation:

Budget keeps facilities open, but layoffs come anyway

“…The layoffs come as lawmakers gave Quinn enough money to avoid closing prisons in Dwight and Tamms, a youth prison in Murphysboro, the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia and adult transition centers in Decatur and Carbondale.

The proposed budget also provides more than $26 million to convert the prison at Tamms into a medium- or minimum-security facility to address concerns about the harsh conditions at the state’s only “supermax” prison.

The prison’s dangerous inmates would be transferred to maximum-security lock-ups in Pontiac or Chester.

Lawmakers cautioned there is no guarantee Quinn will actually spend the money to keep the facilities open…”

Yeah, there certainly is no guarantee that Quinn will either approve the budget or spend the money the way the legislators are telling him that they want it spent. We know enough about Quinn to bet that there are parts of the budget that he will not accept and that he will move some of the budget monies around. While there is money in the budget for all the facilities, funding runs a little short for some of them. For example for Developmental Centers current funding this year is $293M vs $269M in this budget.  As IL Senate Republican, Christine Radogno, characterizes it on her website today: “…Although the budget pretended to protect a number of state facilities from closure, the budget actually gave the Governor tremendous flexibility to shutter facilities and move money around. State facilities that the Governor targeted for closure were not allocated sufficient funds to remain open for a full year and provisions contained within the budget allowed the Governor to take funds earmarked for one facility, move those funds into a more general account and then reallocate those funds to a completely different facility…”

It will not be surprising if Quinn does choose to go ahead and close at least one or two of the state facilities which he is threatening with closure despite the recommendations of the The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) that none of these be closed. Quinn is already indicating that he will proceed with his closure of the Jacksonville Developmental Center,

Quinn: No change in position on Jacksonville Developmental Center

Quinn has the ultimate authority to close any or all of his wish list facilities regardless of input or the COGFA recommendations. It is just that no Governor has previously closed any facilities without COGFA approval. We will just have to hold tight to our seats and see what Quinn decides to do in the next 60 days or so.

No real surprise here today. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability released it’s recommendations this morning about which state facilities it believes that Governor Pat Quinn is justified in closing. The position taken by the CGFA is conservative and so, most of it’s recommendations are not likely to be high regarded by Quinn who will still make the final decision regarding any closures.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability voted 7-3 Tuesday against closing prisons in Tamms and Dwight. It also advised against closing Tamms Correctional Center, Dwight Correctional Center, Illinois Youth Center at Joliet, Westside Adult Transition Center, Peoria Adult Transition Center, Warren G. Murray Developmental Center. The only facility the CGFA recommends closure for is a state DCFS office in Skokie, IL, although even that office and workers will be moved to another state-owned building. COGFA also clarified previous that it’s previous votes stand against closures of the Singer & Tinley Mental hospitals, Jax DC, and the Murphysboro Youth Center.

Commission votes to keep Murray Center and Tamms open.

There has been a lot of public and agency input and fact-finding about Governor Pat Quinn’s desire to close all these State facilities in the hopes of saving the State some money. Given the sinals that Quinn has put out recently about his intent to push forward with pension and medicaid cuts,  Quinn is still likely to close some if not all of these state facilities despite the CGFA recommendations. Especially since some public and professional support for at least two types of facility closures has developed over the past few months.

Forget that most if not all of the relatives of inmates who are or have been imprisoned in the Tamms Supermax prison and the ACLU want Tamms closed  because of the  alleged human rights violations committed there daily. There has been a groundswell of other voices pointing out that the closure of Tamms simply makes economic sense, and that it’s closure won’t affect public safety. Closing Tamms despite union opposition has to look pretty attractive to Governor Quinn given that, at the minimum, the State will have another opportunity to sell another state prison for money:

Our Opinion: It simply costs too much to run Tamms

Thoughts on today’s Tamms editorial

Some health experts and families are also siding with Quinn in support of the closure of four of the state’s eight developmental centers. They may be giving Quinn too much credit in attributing his plan to an overriding desire to empower persons with disabilities, but their support is likely to result in some closures.

Quinn facility closure plan hailed by activists

Well, the IL General Assembly Fall Veto Session is finally over! IL legislators tonight completed Governor Pat Quinn’s job and by reallocating the money in the IL current state budget they worked out a deal to avoid Quinn’s threatened shut-down for seven state facilities and the proposed lay-offs of over 1900 state employees. They also reinstated some funding for mental health and even came up with funds to pay for indigent burials!

Legislators also, fortunately, left Springfield without approving the unwarranted tax breaks for Sears and the Chicago Merchantile Exchange. Too bad that state legislators felt that they had to devote most of this one last day to considering whether or not to give these corporations the tax breaks they are demanding in return for remaining in IL. In the end only 8 legislators voted in favor of tax breaks, so we will see if Sears and CME flee the state or not.

Now, legislators are far from having addressed the serious fiscal problems which the state faces. Averting state closures now is still a temporary fix. Funding will only cover the state budget thru June 2011. We can certainly anticipate a lot more discussion about the state having to close facilities and cut additional staff in 2012. We just hope that Governor Pat Quinn doesn’t again create more chaos and waste everyone’s time and more state money by coming up with another hasty list of “must-do” state closures:

Written by Koehler Staff Tuesday, 29 November 2011 19:31, from IL Senator Koehler’s website:

Springfield – Late Tuesday evening, the General Assembly took action to partially restore human services funding, avert state facility closings, and prevent mass layoffs. They achieved these goals by reprioritizing state spending—not spending additional taxpayer dollars.

“This action is good news for people throughout the state of Illinois, particularly for the families of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled,” said State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “During the holiday season, no one wants to worry about finding care for a loved one or the possibility of getting laid off.”

After Governor Quinn approved the General Assembly’s budget last summer, he claimed that he did not have adequate funding to keep all of the state’s mental health and developmental disability centers open. He threatened to close seven state-run buildings throughout the state. This legislation, Senate Bill 2412, allows the facilities to remain operational for the rest of the fiscal year.

It also partially restores funding for mental health grants that go to local mental health centers, alcoholism and substance abuse programs, burial services for the homeless and very poor, homelessness prevention programs, and need-based financial aid for college students.

To pay for these restorations, the General Assembly sustained many of the governor’s budget-related vetoes, shifted money from other state funds, and reduced a number of lower-priority grants.

“I think this budget more closely reflects our state’s priorities,” Koehler said. “It helps protect the people who are least able to protect themselves. And, while I will admit that we may need to explore facility closures in the future, we need to make sure we plan ahead and transfer mental health patients and developmentally disabled people into safe situations. Closing their facilities without a plan in place could result in unreasonable hardship for these people and their families.”

“I think this is the way budgeting should work,” Koehler added. “We set our priorities, re-examined the budget, and then lowered spending in some areas to allow us to pay more in others.”

7 state facilities getting short-term reprieves

Quinn, legislators work out deal to keep Tinley Park Mental Health Center, 6 other sites open through June

(Chicago Tribune article)

IL legislators have begun tackling several major issues in this first day of the end of the regular fall veto session. They have such a long list to get through that some legislators are already discussion an extension of this veto session later this month. Whether that will happen depends on how much momentum they get out of the next couple of days. House legislators were able to pass a watered down gambling bill which addresses some of Governor Quinn’s expressed concerns on gambling but still leaves in slots at racetracks. Quinn has said he would veto anything with racetrack slots, but he has irritated lawmakers to such an extent that the legislature is attempting to pass a gambling bill that will have enough supermajority votes to override a veto from Quinn. More work remains to be done on the bill before setting it up for voting. Legislators are also attempting to pass their pension reform bill, but that faces a much more uncertain passage during this session since recent analysis of the bill indicates from several sources that instead of curbing future state pension obligations, the proposed manner in which the legislature is approaching reform will likely result in either higher costs to the state or far less savings than plan advocates intend. See article below:

Illinois House committee OKs major pension overhaul

The only other issues considered by legislators far are huge tax breaks (which we can’t afford) for the profitable CME Group Inc. and CBOE Holdings Inc. based in Chicago exchanges; increasing the number of speeding camera; and fixing financing for the Leucadia Chicago Clean Energy project.  The General Assembly has adjourned to today, so we will see if anything useful happens tomorrow. AGAIN, WHAT WILL DEFINITELY NOT HAPPEN THIS SESSION is anything respecting the reinstatement of Meritorious Good Time (MGT) credits or any state prison early release program. At this moment, what is more urgent is that the legislature do something to reallocate budget monies enough to forestall Governor Pat Quinn’s threats to close down 7 state facilities at the end of December 2011, and layoff 2000 plus staff.  Today, mental health advocates are pressuring legislators to reinstate threatened funding for programs.  They also presented 8,000 petition signatures against closure of the Chester Mental Health Center, one of the 7 state facilities Quinn has targeted.

Nobody is taking Governor Pat Quinn’s threats to lay-off state employees en masse and close down seven state facilities because of a budget crunch seriously so far. As we said, it is doubtful that Quinn is going to be successful in carrying out lay-offs and closures, because he has too many hurtles to cross. What Quinn’s tactic is managing to do is generate a lot of negative publicity for Quinn’s overall competence. Kurt Erickson’s article below summarizes why everyone is dissing Quinn for threatening large-scale lay-offs and facility closures when Quinn chooses to ignore other possible alternative revenue sources available to the state to raise the equivalent, if not more, money:   (Click on article titles)

Erickson: Quinn’s announcement viewed as bluff

Illinois takes in more cash from taxpayers, less from feds

Below is AFSCME’s factsheet on the proposed Quinn lay-offs and facility closures. Aside from the drastic effects on social service agencies for the disabled, AFSCME points out that Quinn is proposing to close Chester, the only mental health facility serving the mentally ill inmates of the state prison population and the IL Youth Center, the state’s only juvenile boot camp. This only goes to show readers how unrealistic the proposed closures are and to indicate the degree of opposition Quinn would face if he actually pushes to make these closures.

What this directly shows that this is all a political ploy by the Governor to pressure the state legislature into approving a supplemental budget appropriation for the year, is that fact that the proposed actions are designed to inflict maximum pain at the cost of relatively minimum gain: since the state would only save less than $55 million this fiscal year, or a staggering 0.2 percent of the entire state budget. Since Quinn’s budget showfall is a $2.2 billion dollar gap, $55 million will hardly cover it. Quinn would still have to depend on state legislators or other means to cover the rest, and antagonizing them now is a poor strategy.  As some are pointing out, it will take money to save money:  (Click on article title)

Closing mental facilities to cost millions

As to the number of state employees, remember that IL ranks just about last (if not last) in the country as to the ratio of approx 97 state employees to every 10,000 inhabitants. US states average 143 workers per 10,000 residents. IL has been number 49 on the list for several years since cutting state employees became the priority under Blagovich.