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Legislative update: Rumors circle Springfield regarding closing of some state facilities, layoffs

September 6, 2011
Lori Clark

Lori Clark

In Springfield …

The latest rumors in Springfield surround Gov. Quinn signaling his intention to issue layoff notices to thousands of state employees and closing several state facilities, including a prison, juvenile detention center and homes for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.

While no specifics are being released by the governor’s office at this time, it is not denying the rumors and is attributing the need for these drastic actions to the General Assembly’s failure to appropriate sufficient funding in the current fiscal year to allow at least 12 state agencies to maintain current operations through the end of the fiscal year.

This threatened action follows on the heels of the governor’s recent decision to eliminate pay raises for thousands of state employees, as provided for in a collective bargaining agreement. This action is being challenged in court by AFSCME, and it is anticipated that another court challenge would be initiated by AFSCME should the governor follow through with layoffs and facility closings.

There is widespread speculation that Quinn is trying to set the stage for a showdown with the General Assembly in the Fall Veto Session, scheduled from Oct. 25 to Oct. 27 and from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10.

Quinn, who requested $2.2 billion more than the General Assembly appropriated, appears to be trying to put public pressure on lawmakers to provide additional funding to support current state government operations.

The governor was very conspicuous in his lack of any public appearances over the Labor Day weekend, a move almost unheard of for a Democrat governor in a largely Democratic-controlled state. It promises to be a very interesting veto session.

The second meeting of the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Performance Funding Steering Committee was held Tuesday, Aug. 30.

To help keep our faculty and staff informed about this process, which will be implemented in Fiscal Year 2013 as required by HB 1503 signed Friday, Aug. 12, by the governor, the Division of University Relations soon will launch a website that will contain the most up-to-date information on this process.

In Washington, D.C. …

Congress returns this week from a month-long summer recess.

The full Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 1249, the patent reform legislation, including a cloture vote on the bill. Now that new discretionary spending levels are in place, the Senate also should begin moving on several appropriations bills this week, including Agriculture, Energy and Water and Homeland Security.

In the House, the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee has finally rescheduled a markup for its bill toward the end of the week.

The new deficit reduction “super committee” that was created by the debt-ceiling budget compromise in early August, will hold its first public meeting this week.

President Obama will address a joint session of Congress Thursday, Sept. 8, to present his jobs plan. According to his letter on the session, he intends to “lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the Middle Class and working Americans.”

House Speaker John Boehner is scheduled to discuss his jobs plan next week.

The Voices section of NIU Today features opinions and perspectives from across campus. Lori Clark is director of State and Federal Relations for NIU.