As you can see by these two stories the Governor’s decision to close Mabley and Jacksonville is really begining to heat up.


Quinn makes idle threats to close facilities


By Jim Nowlan


Gov. Pat Quinn has threatened in a press conference to close seven Illinois state facilities, including two prisons and centers for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. The facilities won’t ultimately be closed because there is no place for the wrongdoers, ill and infirm to go.

Yet these people have become pawns in a budget controversy that pits Quinn against the legislature, doctors and hospitals, state employee unions and probably the federal courts.

There has to be a better way to resolve conflict than governing by press conference.

The background is this. Prior to the 2010 elections, which he won very narrowly, Gov. Quinn inked a pact with pleased state employee unions that promised no layoffs if he were elected. This was to go along with contractual pay increases negotiated earlier to go in effect in 2011.

This spring the Illinois House, with support from both Democrats and Republicans, crafted a budget that severely cut several state agencies on the premise that lawmakers would budget no more dollars than the revenues projected to come in during the year.

The budget provided much less than Quinn had requested and induced him to spurn the pay increases and no layoff pledge and then to threaten the facility closures.

Quinn also imposed reduction vetoes in the budget bill that would reduce spending for medical care by about $300 million. “Accept my reductions and I won’t close the facilities,” says Quinn.

But the reductions would come from payments to hospitals and doctors, who claim they are already woefully underpaid for their services. And they have strong support in the legislature, especially from Republican lawmakers who were otherwise pleased with the overall budget cutting.

Budgeting is about the politics of who gets what. And nobody wants less. Further, state government budgeting is largely about providing services to people—school kids, college students, foster children, the ill, infirm, prisoners. I figure that about 5-6 million of the state’s 12-plus million residents receive state services of one kind or another and often more than one service per person.

In the past decade the legislature and governor simply budgeted what they felt needed to be spent, without worrying about how much was coming in via taxes. As a result, Illinois overspent by about $3 billion a year and went deep into debt.

So the income tax was increased to cover the annual over-spending and maybe start to whittle down the backlog of bills. Even with the new tax money, the budget is tight.

Yet few lawmakers and citizens are willing to throw disabled children and adults onto the streets, and prisons are already significantly overcrowded. Shoe-horning more inmates into fewer prisons would probably invite a federal lawsuit that would claim inmates are being denied basic human rights. A recent federal court decision in California is, for example, forcing that state to find more room for its prisoners.

Some day the state institutions for the developmentally disabled may be closed, with the residents transferred to community-based facilities, but I don’t think the communities are ready for the residents just yet.

The likely result of the present contretemps between governor and lawmakers and interest groups will be adjustments in the budget to allow the threatened institutions to continue operating, but without funding for pay increases to state employees. The employee unions will fight out that contractual issue in court.

A better approach than government by press conference would be for the governor and legislative leaders to sit down and hash out the actual problems between a legislative budget that may have been too austere for certain agencies and a governor who was overly generous in his commitments before the election.

Jim Nowlan is a former Illinois legislator and state agency director. He is a senior fellow at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

Economic impact report on JDC closing: $47 million would be lost

Economic impact report on JDC closing: $47 million would be lost


A required report by the state indicates the economic punch of losing the Jacksonville Developmental Center will be around $47 million to Morgan County.

In addition to the direct loss of jobs at the facility, there would be a significant ripple effect that would cost thousands of dollars in losses for everything from food services to entertainment and recreation.

Gov. Pat Quinn announced Sept. 8 that he planned to close the Jacksonville Development Center and several other state facilities as a way to help deal with a $313.5 million shortfall in the state budget.

The plan, which would leave more than 1,900 without work statewide, has drawn fire.

An economic impact plan by the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois, said the impact of the closings would be significant — especially in downstate Illinois.

“It is likely that the problems of finding alternative employment will be greater in smaller communities. A further issue stems from the ability of employees to relocate where the relocation would involve the sale of a house or similar property. Given the depressed state of the housing market in some communities, selling a house may prove to be as difficult as finding another job; in many downstate communities, time on the market averages more than one year,” the report said.

The study found that in Jacksonville the biggest hit would be a $31.05 million direct loss to the health and social services field. Indirect losses would amount to about $7.3 million and $8.6 million in induced losses — meaning the loss of spending that would have been associated with all those who no longer have jobs.

“The analysis conducted here only looks at the negative effects of the closure of the facility, however, there are other impacts that have not be considered — the nature and volume of charitable contributions — both time and money — provided by the facility employees; the impact of the closure and relocation of facility employees and their families on school district enrollments and so forth,” according to the report. “All of these more qualitative impacts contribute to the fabric of the local community and may be valued just as highly – even is they are more difficult to measure.”

In addition the shuttering JDC, Quinn has proposed closing Tinley Park Mental Health Center, Singer Mental Health Center, Chester Mental Health Center, Jack Mabley Developmental Center, Logan Correctional Center and Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro.


Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)