Local political and labor leaders have been closely following budget negotiations in Springfield and it’s not surprising they do not like what they hear from the Capitol.
The Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro, Adult Transition Center in Carbondale and super-maximum Tamms Correctional Center have all been targeted for closure by Gov. Pat Quinn. Sixty-three state facilities could be closed and 2,300 workers laid off to save $88 million.
Workers at IYC Murphysboro, the adult transition center and the Tamms super-max all received layoff notices this week.
State Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, said he is on board with the proposed shift of the Tamms facility from supermax to a regular correctional center if it means the facility stays open.
"If you don't like it as supermax, don't call it one,” Forby said. “The rest of the prisons are so overcrowded, move those prisoners to Tamms and make it work.”
State Senate Democrats proposed a budget to keep Tamms open for one year, but IYC Murphysboro and Carbondale’s transition center would still be closed.
Murphysboro Mayor Ron Williams said he’s “not optimistic” about IYC Murphysboro’s future, but nothing is final yet.
“The last word I had (Tuesday) morning was that there are still negotiations to be done,” Williams said.
IYC Murphysboro was targeted for closure last year. A bi-partisan commission recommended against closing the youth center, but its recommendation is not binding.
State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, said he understands why workers at IYC Murphysboro may be edgy about the possible closure.
“If I were at a job there I would be just as nervous as they are,” Luechtefeld said. “I have no other information if (Quinn is) going to follow through with this or not follow through with this.”
State Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, said it’s too early to ring a death knell for IYC Murphysboro.
“We’ll see how the next week pans out,” he said. “You can’t say it’s over because it’s a long way from over.”
Bost said he would not vote against funding for IYC Murphysboro, the adult transition center or the Tamms supermax.
“I will not vote on a budget that has closures of these facilities on there,” Bost said.
Ty Petersen, the IYC Murphysboro and Carbondale transition center representative with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, said he was disappointed by Quinn and Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who lives in Carbondale.
“It’s very ironic that we have a governor who calls himself a jobs governor and a lieutenant governor in this area and neither have stepped up to save these few hundred jobs here in (the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Corrections),” he said.
— Becky Malkovich contributed to this report
On Twitter: @DW_Norris_SI