Legislature’s hands may be tied

2012-06-21T07:00:00Z 2013-07-29T11:00:18Z Legislature’s hands may be tiedBY D.W. NORRIS, The Southern The Southern
June 21, 2012 7:00 am  • 

CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois state lawmakers vowed Wednesday to fight Gov. Pat Quinn’s expected closures of three state facilities in the region.

State Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, said the General Assembly could override Quinn’s line-item vetoes of funding for Tamms Correctional Center in Alexander County, Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro and Southern Illinois Adult Transition Center in Carbondale.

State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said he’s going to work on getting support for a budget veto override.

However, state Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, said lawmakers may not be able to get around Quinn’s power over state spending and the Aug. 31 closure dates for those facilities and others.

Bost said just because lawmakers may override the spending cuts, it doesn’t mean Quinn has to fund the facilities. The governor could simply sit on the money in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

More important may be the timing of the closures, which would come months before the General Assembly’s scheduled November veto session.

Bost said he doubts the facilities would be reopened if they are shuttered.

Emergency sessions could be called by state Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, but Bost said there may not be support from other lawmakers.

The next move?

Senate Democratic Caucus Deputy Press Secretary Ron Holmes said Cullerton is open to taking action, but a couple things have to happen.

“Any action that we take would have to depend upon what the governor decides to do,” Holmes said. “We’re going to continue talking to Sen. Forby and our legislative team to see what our options are.”

House Democratic Press Secretary Steve Brown said a supermajority of three-fifths of the General Assembly would be necessary to do anything meaningful, and the state has other pressing issues, such as pension reform.

Brown said he didn’t think lawmakers in other parts of the state were as concerned about the closures as their central and Southern Illinois counterparts.

Still, Brown said, Madigan will listen.

“I’m sure the speaker would be happy to work with all the legislators, including Mike Bost if he’s lucid again,” Brown said.

If a special session doesn’t happen, Bost said it leaves one option.

“How this can be cured is in (Quinn’s) hands,” Bost said. “He signs the legislation in its entirety how it was passed.”

The General Assembly sent Quinn a $33.7 billion budget plan with money to operate the facilities.

Southern Illinois state lawmakers, including state Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, said Quinn went back on his word after legislators traded votes on some issues in exchange for funds for the facilities.

Fighting mad

The region’s state legislators were fighting mad Wednesday at a rally outside Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon’s Carbondale offices.

Phelps said he’s ready to pull his support from Quinn for the November elections if the governor goes through with the closures.

“We’re never going to forget this, but (Quinn has) the opportunity to get this right,” he said.

Although unpopular in Southern Illinois, Quinn’s budget office said the closures in Tamms, Murphysboro and Carbondale are necessary and justified because of low occupancy and high expense.

“Overall, these closures will allow the state to better live within our means and address the state's most pressing needs,” Quinn spokeswoman Kelly Kraft wrote in an email.


On Twitter: @DW_Norris_SI

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(5) Comments

  1. getthefacts
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    getthefacts - June 21, 2012 9:29 pm
    Moving to Missouri is looking more and more appealing. Too bad I won't be able to sell my house because there will be no jobs. I guess that means I am stuck here in this sinking ship called Illinois.

    Thank you so much to all my fellow Jackson County residents who voted for Quinn just because he had that beloved "D" after his name! When are you all going to wake up! The Democrats in Illinois are all crooked, and this is from a person who's family has ALWAYS been democrats! Thank God I finally woke up and became an Independent!

    I use to still support my local democrats, but after what has transpired this past week with a fully loaded committee of democrats kicking off republicans over staples, I am rethinking that! Good grief, the County Clerk's employee or employee's who took the petitions should have not accepted the petitions unless they were turned in with the frickin' staples if that was what was required. It was either ignorance, incompetence, or dirty politics in the Jackson County Clerk's office that resulted in this. None of which is acceptable and falls directly on our elected County Clerk who is a democrat and who is also on the committee that kicked off the republicans. More republicans will probably be kicked off in the coming days from what the paper is reporting, resulting in no competition for the sitting democrats. I stated in a post on an article about this that Jackson County (I need to clarify, Jackson County Democratic Party) is turning into a Little Chicago when it comes to politics.

    Who in their right mind would EVER move to the state of Illinois. I sure wish I could GET OUT I am so fed up!
  2. Not2serious
    Report Abuse
    Not2serious - June 21, 2012 1:42 pm
    (Quinn) Okayy, here's what we'll do. I'll close these downstate facilities. Forby,you and Pheps feign righteous indignation and badmouth me. Those rubes in the Southern part of the state will call what you are doing fighting back for them,I'll still make the closures and you'll be the heroes doing what you were elected to do (snicker) and they'll vote you guys in again. (Forby and Phelps) Genius,pure genius,Pat!
  3. sgtstu
    Report Abuse
    sgtstu - June 21, 2012 10:15 am
    They say politics makes strange bed fellows. Well boys time for all of you to get into bed !! It has been done in the past down here before. It is the only way Southern Illinois will ever get anything !! Do not stand in line behind the Legislative leaders, stand beside each other to help us !!! Mr. Bost, was the vote you cast on retirement health care one of the pay offs you took to try and keep the youth center open in Murphysboro ? I am going to guess it was.
  4. WXMAN
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    WXMAN - June 21, 2012 9:54 am
    I hope you are being sarcastic...
  5. Report Abuse
    - June 21, 2012 8:17 am
    thank you sir's .MR.BOST._.MR.FORBY.MR.PHELPS.thank you for doing what you where elec.to do.past party line's.if all elec.officals served like you .this would be a better country.thank you again
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