* The grim state budget situation is being felt all the way through the system…
Inmates in at least one state prison are being forced to wear the same used underwear for several days in a row because of a clothing shortage.
The situation, says a prison watchdog group, is not only icky, but could potentially lead to illness. And it isn’t limited to just one facility.
In a recent report, the John Howard Association says a visit to the Taylorville Correctional Center found inmates wearing dirty, threadbare clothes that are only being washed twice a week.
Since the minimum-security prison only issues two pairs of boxer shorts to inmates, that means they must wear them for at least half of the week. Or, the group suggests, some inmates could decide to forgo wearing underwear altogether.
With the start of a new budget year just two days away, thousands of Illinois businesses are still waiting for state income tax refunds dating back to 2009.
The Illinois Department of Revenue said Tuesday it would end the fiscal year June 30 still owing about $620 million in business income tax refunds. As of June 21, the department still owed 7,572 business income tax refunds, although spokeswoman Sue Hofer said the number by the end of the month would be lower because some since have been paid.
The oldest of the overdue refunds goes back to April or May of 2009, she said. The average amount of the refunds owed is $104,000. Hofer said refunds less than $5,000 have been paid.
The average is $104K? Wow. Yet more evidence that state government is one of the biggest drags on Illinois’ economy.
* Speaking of taxes, the Illinois Department of Revenue didn’t do so well in a recent state audit…
In the agency’s Chicago and Springfield tax-processing offices, full- and part-time employees who handled confidential tax returns were permitted to carry personal cell phones equipped with cameras, Holland found.
Holland also found sensitive tax records on desks, open shelving areas and tables in areas where visitors had access and, in one instance, stored in an open bin in a readily accessible hallway within a tax-processing area.
Holland also disclosed instances where uncashed taxpayer checks turned up in the desk drawers of employees who no longer worked for the Department of Revenue and faulted the agency for not performing background checks on state workers who had access to the department’s taxpayer-information database.
“I don’t think we proved instances of identity theft,” Holland told the Chicago Sun-Times. “But I’d tell you, when you have so many people with so much access to so many records, it’s only a matter of time until something bad happens.”
* Turning to the city’s budget woes, the mayor is ending the furlough program…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel vowed Tuesday to defuse a financial time bomb left behind by former Mayor Richard M. Daley — without unpaid furlough days and with or without union help.
“Furloughs have not worked out economically or for morale — and I’ve heard it directly from the workers. I also know that it’s not worked out for the taxpayers — the people I represent … It hasn’t been the panacea” it was purported to be, Emanuel said.
“June 30 … the furloughs will end. … The city work force will get their vacation days and their full work week in. The taxpayers will get that as well. … But, I’m committed to seeing through the $30 million in savings [generated by unpaid days off required of the entire city work force]. Make no mistake about it.” […]
On Tuesday, the mayor said he’s poised to wield his budget ax at midnight Thursday, presumably by sending out layoff notices.
And while he’s still holding out hope that organized labor will help bridge at least part of the gap, he’s prepared to act unilaterally if they don’t.
*** UPDATE *** From the Tribune…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel today revealed that he’s offered City Hall labor unions a choice: Agree to $20 million in savings through work-rule changes or face 625 layoffs.
“If you don’t, that will be the choice left to me on behalf of the taxpayers,” Emanuel said at a news conference to announce Walgreens will add 600 jobs in Chicago over the next two years.
Labor leaders will take 10 days to two weeks to put together their own package of proposed cuts, the mayor said. He would not say whether he will issue the layoff notices in the meantime. “I’m not just going to sit here and wait. I’ll make certain decisions,” he said
* Regional school chiefs await final state budget: According to information from Franklin-Williamson Regional Superintendent Matt Donkin, the state budget includes $2.2 million for program costs in the 2012 fiscal year, down from $4.4 million in 2011. The $4.4 million this year was 43 percent of the 2003 budget allotment.
* Illinois Lottery cut corners in rush to choose private manager: state auditor
* CTA cuts 54 jobs, details $15M in savings
* ISU golf course gets Quinn’s OK to sell liquor
* Consolidation could be survival option for struggling towns
* Decades after Council Wars, Burke’s bodyguards questioned - Finance Committee chairman kept police protection in racially charged era; now critics doubt need in tight budget times
* Chicago convention officials prepare new moves to tout tourism
* Allscripts ready to double Chicago workforce, add conventions here
* Walgreen to add 600 city jobs: In a news conference at a South Side Walgreen store, Mr. Emanuel and company officials announced the huge drugstore chain will add food products to roughly 40 additional stores in so-called food deserts, up from 11 currently that sell a wider range of groceries.
* Mines in 10 states, including Illinois, cited for safety violations
* Ready for Reform: Illinois bill draws looks from other states