* Four new prison guard cadet class and three new state trooper cadet classes are included in Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget. There’s lots of new state hiring, at least partially forced by over 5,000 retirements in the past 18 months…
But, the hiring won’t necessarily boost the total number of state employees.
According to Quinn aides, the state workforce has dropped below the 50,000 mark, primarily because of a wave of more than 5,500 retirements in the past 18 months. Under Quinn’s budget, the number of employees would grow to about 53,000. […]
“We’re basically keeping staffing level,” said Quinn budget spokesman Abdon Pallasch. […]
The proposed spending plan for the Department of Human Services calls for more than 900 new employees, including 450 workers to handle welfare-related programs.
At the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the budget includes money to hire 100 state park workers and additional conservation police officers. The new workers will restock an agency that has seen a 55 percent reduction in headcount since 2002.
* Federal law is forcing another increase…
While other parts of government may be facing potentially drastic cuts, Gov. Pat Quinn is calling for an increase in spending on Amtrak train service.
Budget documents show the Chicago Democrat has earmarked $12 million more for passenger rail service in Illinois, bringing the total spent on additional trains between Chicago and routes ending in St. Louis, Carbondale and Galesburg to $38 million.
The 46 percent increase for the fiscal year beginning July 1, however, would not mean Illinois would be getting any extra train service this year.
Rather, a 2008 federal law requires states to begin picking up a larger part of the tab for rail service. The law calls for more state aid for train routes that are shorter than 750 miles long.
Other states facing higher tabs include New York, Michigan and California.
Mike Claffey, a spokesman for the Quinn administration, said the final amount owed to the feds could be lower.
* The Tribune is not amused…
The proponents of high-speed rail say: No sweat, after the expensive upgrades the system will be much more productive. Faster trains will be a big draw for passengers, which will produce new revenues.
But Amtrak passenger revenues don’t come close to covering the cost of the service and there’s little prospect that they ever will. Who will be on the hook in Illinois? It won’t be Uncle Sam. It will be Uncle Springfield.
* And the bad news continues…
For many who had worked at Malcolm Eaton Enterprises in Freeport, it felt like getting laid off.
Malcolm Eaton, a training center and workplace for developmentally disabled adults, no longer can take on clients from Frances House, operator of several Rockford-area group homes, because the state of Illinois is so far behind in promised payments.
Frances House had sent clients to Malcolm Eaton for more than two years. There, the roughly 60 adults, mostly in their 40s and 50s, would complete small jobs and developmental training programs based on their abilities.
But with the state behind on the bills, Frances House doesn’t have the cash flow to continue the program, and now administrators and families are scrambling to find someplace else for clients to spend their days.
For months, the Quinn administration unsuccessfully tried to force the state’s largest employee union to accept wage cuts as part of its negotiations over a new labor agreement.
Not only were the governor’s efforts unsuccessful, but a new University of Illinois study shows government workers are a relative bargain compared with their private sector counterparts.
As 35,000 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union vote this week on a new three year collective bargaining agreement with the state, the study appears to show they were right to hold out against Quinn’s push to cut their paychecks.
The study found that state and local government workers in Illinois earn incomes that are 13.5 percent less on average than workers in the private sector with a comparable education.
“When you control for education and other demographic variables, it turns out that public sector workers suffer a wage penalty,” says Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations on the Urbana campus. “So it’s a myth that state workers in Illinois are overpaid, and to lay the blame for the state’s budget woes and underfunded pensions on state workers is just plain false.”