During his visit to Normal, Governor Pat Quinn touted his retooled budget plan saying it will save taxpayers money, in part by taking funds appropriated for prisons and transferring them to social agencies. When asked how the transfer results in savings, Quinn defended his decision to help children and families.
"I'm not gonna maintain prisons and then cut the safety net for children who might be abused. I think all of us understand it's our duty as adults to make sure we protect our children."
Quinn said he's confident consolidating the corrections population won't undermine the state's ability to prevent chaos.
"Well, we have to always be very prepared for anything, any eventuality. Our director of corrections does that every day. I have confidence in his ability to maintain order."
Quinn wants to close the Dwight prison as well as the supermax facility in Tamms and two other prisons. Union officials have threatened a lawsuit, saying court action delayed the proposed closure of Pontiac prison which ultimately remained open. Quinn says he's confident the courts will uphold his decision that he says includes facilities from all across Illinois. He says the pain of job loss from the closures is spread throughout Illinois.
"I think we can defend all of my facility decisions. We had to close 62 facilities in Illinois, all across our state, in the city, the suburbs, downstate."
While Quinn says the closings will save taxpayers money, he wouldn't address the issue of whether the cost-savings would outweigh the cost of defending his decision in court. Some lawmakers say they plan to call for an override of Quinn's veto this fall.
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