It’s not a parochial or a partisan issue, but Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford (pictured), a Republican, says Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, was wrong to de-fund the state prisons at Tamms and Dwight after the General Assembly gave him a budget to keep them open. Rutherford says the corrections population is at 147 percent of capacity and that it’s a public safety issue. He says making decisions about prisons without a long-range plan is not strictly a Democratic problem, either.
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“George Ryan closed Sheridan, up in La Salle County. It sat there – what, two, three years? Just sat there. Nothing was done with it.” With lawmakers expected to discuss changes to the state’s pension systems this fall, if not sooner, Rutherford says he has discussed his ideas with legislative leaders, but not with the governor’s office. “I think that part of the discussion should be whether local school districts should pick up their costs,” says Rutherford. “But I think in part of that discussion should also be: where are we at in regards to the school aid formula? Where are we at in regards to special education fund distribution? Where are we on categoricals?” Rutherford, the Illinois chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, says Romney’s Illinois itinerary will at least include some fund-raising appearances this summer. He says he expects a competitive campaign in the state but calls Romney’s chances to beat President Obama on Obama’s turf a “long shot.”