As lawmakers work to create a budget for the coming fiscal year, much of the attention at the Statehouse has been on pensions and Medicaid. But for many downstate legislators, Governor Pat Quinn's proposal to close facilities like prisons and mental health centers is still a major concern. Representative Brandon Phelps, a Democrat from Harrisburg, has the state's only supermax prison in his district. The Tamms prison is on Quinn's closure list. Phelps says negotiations seem to be going well .. though nothing yet is set in stone:
"Right now we feel good about it, but like I said, this thing can change, so we're not getting too hopeful, but we still are talking about how important this is to us."
Phelps says he's willing to make concessions to keep Tamms open, even it means reducing the level of security from super maximum. When he introduced his budget, Governor Quinn estimated 300 people working at Tamms would be laid off. Both the House and Senate budget proposals restore funding that would keep Tamms open.
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