Illinois lawmakers aren’t thrilled to hear that Gov. Pat Quinn’s wants to close or consolidate 59 state facilities and reduce the state workforce by almost 2400 employees. But they are acknowledging tough decisions must be made in a tough situation. The state currently owes almost $8 billion in unpaid bills. And Caterpillar, Inc., says it won’t expand in Illinois citing its fiscal problems.
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Illinois is also facing rising pension liabilities and expects to have to pay more in Medicaid. A Decatur halfway home is one of the facilities targeted. It’s in the district of St. Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon), who says he knew this would happen when he ran for office. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I think what we have to remember is even though it’s not easy, it’s possible. Balancing the budget is possible. Managing corrections is possible,” McCarter says. St. Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) says she wants more dialogue between the governor, legislators and the people working at the facilities he wants to close. “And that’s what I don’t know. I would have liked to have been brought in to this discussion prior to it being announced as part of the budget. Just to see what his reasons were. Why did he pick these particular facilities?” Two prisons, two juvenile detention centers, six halfway homes, two mental health centers and two developmental centers are among the facilities to close if the Quinn budget is approved.