Political Rewind: Tax Hike Not Enough to Pull Illinois Out of Debt

It's always good to be caught up on state politics. Here's an easy guide to what happened this week.

Editor's Note: This article was created by aggregating news articles from Illinois Statehouse News that were written by various Illinois Statehouse News reporters.

Illinois prisons at bursting point if Logan closes

Closing the Logan Correctional Center may save Illinois taxpayers $9 million in the short term, but potential lawsuits resulting from overcrowding and civil rights violations could burden the state financially in the long term.

The loss of 1,970 beds at the Lincoln facility would force Illinois to squeeze 48,743 into 49,030 beds at the state's 27 prisons, leaving only 287 beds available statewide.

Guards, advocates and the state Department of Corrections, or DOC, say this limited space creates a difficult and dangerous situation because few beds are available for new inmates and inmates who need to be separated from the general prison population. 

Gov. Pat Quinn said Logan is one of seven state facilities recommended for closure because of budget shortfalls. Quinn spokeswoman Brie Callahan said lawmakers did not give the governor enough money to run state government for a full year. 

Logan's 1,970 inmates would be sent to other prisons, and plans for the transfers have been filed with the Legislature's Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, or COGFA, which will play a role in deciding if Logan or any state facility closes.  

The Department of Corrections estimates it could save $9 million this year by closing Logan, though questions surround the additional cost to other prisons that take in Logan's inmates.

Lots of concerns, few answers in Quinn closing plan

New reports from Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration say that closing seven state facilities will cost Illinois 2,660 jobs and nearly $300 million in lost economic activity. 

The governor’s office gave the Legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, or COGFA, the closing recommendations and economic impact studies for the seven sites Quinn has targeted for closing.

Those sites are:

  • Chester Mental Health Center in Chester;
  • H. Douglas Singer Mental Health Center in Rockford;
  • Tinley Park Mental Health Center in Tinley Park;
  • Jacksonville Developmental Center in Jacksonville;
  • Jack Mabley Developmental Center in Dixon;
  • Illinois Youth Camp Murphysboro in Murphysboro;
  • Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln.

Brie Callahan, spokeswoman for the governor, said lawmakers are to blame for the job losses at a time when Illinois’ unemployment rate is more than 9 percent.

“Last spring, the administration made it clear to the General Assembly there would be serious consequences to the budget they passed. … The General Assembly did not appropriate enough funds in these particular lines to keep all these facilities staffed and running for the entire year,” Callahan said.

Quinn, when he announced the closings earlier this month, said 1,900 state employees would be laid off. The other 760 jobs would be indirect losses from restaurants and dry cleaners, for example, because their livelihoods depend on those state employees.

Tax hike not enough to pull Illinois out of debt

Adam Andrzejewski says he’s not surprised by a new report showing that Illinois remains in a fiscal black hole despite a 67-percent personal income tax increase approved by the Legislature earlier this year.

“The state of Illinois needs to do three things” Andrzejewski said. “That is cut spending, cut spending, and cut spending.”

Andrzejewski, a former GOP candidate for governor, now leads his own group, For the Good of Illinois, a 501(c)4 nonprofit that calls for “limited, accountable and transparent government” and conducts research on the state’s government. For the Good of Illinois also has a political action committee, For the Good of Illinois PAC. For the Good of Illinois says on its website that it uses an “aggressive approach to grassroots advocacy, social media, (and) applies constant to policymakers to act.”

Andrzejewski said lawmakers need to start cutting state spending by focusing on payroll, pensions, and perks.

“The entire 67-percent (personal) income tax hike went to fund the pensions and payroll here in Illinois,” said Andrzejewski. “There are 3,062 public employees that out-earned Governor Quinn. They’re at all levels of  Illinois government. Collectively those 3,000 employees soak up $1 billion in total compensation.”

Erno of the Brook October 02, 2011 at 11:17 AM
Could we see the job titles for some of these folks that soak up a billion dollars of our taxes? Oh, and by the way, we could save a lot of money if we weren't so incarceration-happy in this state--and country. There are more people per capita in prison in this country than anywhere else in the world. Are we really THAT bad as people or are we scared of our own neighbors?
Jimmy J October 02, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Adam is correct! Governor Quinn and the Democrats need to reform the government pensions and decrease benefits, cut colas and increase the employee contributions. They should move the government employees to a 401 K type plan comparable to the private sector. By the way, the "temporary" income tax increase is unlikely to be temporary. Governor Quinn is like an alcoholic...but let's call him a spendaholic. Also, Quinn and the Democrats ought to look at privatizing as many government functions as possible. Government can't seem to be more efficient...let's give privatizing a chance. The government employee unions stand against any increase in efficiency or productivity.
Rick Smith October 04, 2011 at 02:51 PM
Thanks to the moron's and dopes in the 3 counties that elected this idiot. we are and will continued to be screwed by the democrats who care not for the state but for their political allies getting our money for doing zippo as long as we keep electing - and it goes for the republicans in this state as well - dopes who play to the unions both private & public sector increasing salaries and pensions we will certainly go bankrupt. these politicians CREATED ALL THESE PROBLEMS - the people have not created these problem but are the ones that have to bare the heat from them. time for all these so called public service employees to take the CUTS we have all had to endure -


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