Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn wants to cut costs by closing a prison that opened just 14 years ago as a cutting-edge facility for the state’s most dangerous inmates.
Aides said the Democrat will propose closing the “supermax” prison at Tamms in southern Illinois when he lays out his budget plan Wednesday. Also on the chopping block is the 80-year-old lockup in Dwight.
Tamms opened in 1998 to house the state’s most violent prisoners. Those inmates will move to the maximum-security Pontiac Correctional Center.
Female prisoners at Dwight would be transferred to Logan prison in Lincoln.
The closures, along with a plan to shutter six centers for low-level offenders, are intended to cut spending by $100 million a year.
Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget speech won’t include specific plans for fixing two of Illinois’ biggest financial problems.
Aides say Quinn will outline the depth of the state’s pension and Medicaid problems Wednesday and discuss general solutions. But they acknowledge he won’t spell out exactly what the governor thinks should be done.
Quinn advisor Jerome Stermer told reporters Tuesday evening that Quinn will work with lawmakers and outside groups to negotiate solutions.
State government has to contribute more and more to pensions every year to make up for underfunding them in the past. The increase next year is roughly $1 billion.
Medicaid costs are climbing, too. Quinn says they must be cut by $2.7 billion next year.
Illinois Republicans are criticizing parts of Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposed budget along with some of the ideas he’s likely to detail.
According to a Tuesday budget briefing, Quinn will propose closing several state facilities during his address Wednesday. The Democrat has also asked several agencies to cut spending.
However, the overall budget is more than last year.
Republican Sen. Matt Murphy says the closures are a step in the right direction toward cutting spending, but more should be done.
Other GOP leaders who spoke a day ahead of the address condemned Quinn’s other ideas and past actions.
Illinois GOP Party Chairman and Congressman Aaron Schock accused Quinn of showing no leadership on pensions and warned him not to build the budget on projections of Medicaid savings that may never materialize. (AP)