CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday that he planned major spending cuts, including layoffs, as he tries to keep state government running within the tight budget sent to him by Illinois legislators.
Quinn would provide no details about the scope of the cuts. Asked if thousands of state employees could lose their jobs, he said, “We have to do what we have to do.”
Legislators and state-employee unions said they hadn’t been given any information about Quinn’s plans. With lawmakers returning to the Capitol at the end of October, announcing cuts could be partly a tactic to generate public pressure on the General Assembly to allow more spending.
One union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, immediately called on officials to overcome a “crisis of will” and approve money to maintain key operations.
Quinn’s comments came in response to a Chicago Tribune report Tuesday that cited a person in state government who requested anonymity who said Quinn planned to issue layoff notices this week. The report also stated that sources said Quinn intended to announce the closing of several state facilities, including a prison, juvenile detention center and homes for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.
The Democratic governor and his staff did not deny the reports but would not provide any details about how many jobs could be targeted, what state operations might close or how much Quinn believed spending must be cut.
Cutting jobs and closing facilities would entangle the state in another legal battle with unions representing state employees. It also could take a toll on the state economy.
But Quinn said he has no choice. Lawmakers passed a budget that means some state departments would run out of money by spring unless reductions are made, he said.
“I have to abide by the will of the General Assembly,” Quinn said. “They passed a budget that requires reductions, and therefore we’ll have to carry those reductions out.”