Governor Pat Quinn today announced that his administration is now able to proceed with closing empty, half-empty or unnecessary state facilities, which will save taxpayers about $100 million a year when combined with consolidations and help restore fiscal stability to Illinois. Following a recent Illinois Supreme Court order, the Circuit Court for the First Judicial Circuit today dissolved an injunction that was preventing the state from completing closure of the facilities. The delay in keeping the facilities open since August 31 has cost taxpayers approximately $7 million a month.
"The taxpayers of Illinois are the real winners today," Governor Quinn said. "Our state is facing unprecedented financial pressures and closing these facilities is one part of the long-term solution. The next and perhaps most critical part of fixing our state's financial problems is to pass comprehensive pension reform when the state legislature reconvenes in January."
Two juvenile centers will be closed, including Murphysboro in southern Illinois which has had no juveniles since July 9. The second juvenile center, Joliet, which was built to house 350 youth, currently houses 149. The overall population in Illinois' juvenile justice system has dropped from 1,700 in 1999 to 943 this year with a shift toward more community-based programs.
Two prisons are also covered by the order, including Tamms in southern Illinois, where about 236 prisoners are left in a prison built to house 700. Tamms was the state's most expensive prison, running at three times the cost of other prisons. Dwight women's prison, southwest of Chicago, will be closed and most of the prisoners transferred to Logan. The order also includes three Department of Corrections adult transition centers.
Inmates who are currently at the closing facilities will be transferred to other facilities. Guards and other personnel have been offered jobs at other facilities. The closures will be completed in the coming weeks.
Since taking office, Governor Quinn has taken many steps to restore fiscal stability to Illinois after decades of mismanagement. In addition to enacting pension reform for future employees that will save taxpayers billions, Governor Quinn has reduced the state's discretionary spending to below 2008 levels and implemented many efficiencies. The governor and Lt. governor Sheila Simon also cut their own office budgets by nine percent this year. Governor Quinn proposed and signed legislation to reduce the state's Medicaid liability by more than $2 billion. In April, Governor Quinn proposed a plan that would fully fund the pension system by 2042 and prevent skyrocketing pension costs from eating up core services like education and healthcare.