* Voting against a supplemental appropriations bill because it uses money saved from closing a state facility in your region in order to fund DCFS operations is understandable. But, what’s done is done…
The Democratic-sponsored measure, endorsed on a mostly party line 63-52 vote, would allow the state to hire workers to check on abused children, boost spending on road and bridge construction projects and finance employee health insurance programs for the remainder of the current fiscal year. […]
State Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, said Quinn’s money-saving move to close the Tamms Correctional Center, for example, has triggered violence elsewhere in the state’s overcrowded prison system.
“I’m telling you, what we’re using is blood money,” Bost said.
* That’s not to say there are no problems in the prisons right now. There most certainly are…
We have confirmed that earlier today multiple inmates with possible gang connections assaulted two staff members and the chaplain at Menard Correctional Center in Chester. One of the guards has been taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released.
According to Illinois Department of Corrections Spokeswoman Stacey Solano, the assault took place in the chapel of the facility, with one guard the target of the assault while the chaplain and the other guard injured while coming to his aid.
Early reports indicate 13 members of the Latin Disciples attacked the guards while in the chapel. The facility is reportedly now on a level one lockdown, which is the highest level of security. […]
The 13 inmates allegedly involved in the assaults of the guards have reportedly been transferred to the facility’s segregation unit, the location of an inmate death last week that union officials are calling murder.
This is the second staff assault at Menard in less than a month, and the fourth reported staff assault in that same time period for the entire system.
I hope this doesn’t mean that IDOC is losing control of the prisons. It’s tough to gauge from media coverage, because the Tamms closure has resulted in a whole lot more stories and media interest. I’d like to see some overall numbers here. But that Latino gang attack is mighty worrisome on its own.
* Meanwhile, back to the supplemental approp bill…
On Tuesday, Illinois House members approved spending over $2 billion on road building and transferred money from the department of corrections to child welfare and mental health services.
The “supplemental appropriation” was pushed through by majority Democrats and Republicans said the bill was included “millions in unnecessary and irresponsible spending”.
GOP leader Tom Cross argued against the bill.
“When you come before this chamber and say ‘We want to appropriate all this money’, and not focus on a single reform, yes, it’s cause for pause. Yes, we have concerns, and yes, we are not going to support it,” said Cross.
As I explained to subscribers, it’s not really $2 billion. And it’s not new money. From the bill’s Balanced Budget Impact Note…
HB 190 (H-AM 4) provides supplemental appropriations for a net increase of approximately $603,266,600 in general revenue fund appropriations, approximately $1,516,909,900 in other State fund appropriations, and approximately $48,757,100 in federal fund appropriations. The bill provides for no new revenue sources, nor does the bill requires any additional State spending. This Bill does not directly have any significant fiscal impact. The supplemental appropriation to the Department of Central Management Services for group insurance was expected to be included in the fiscal year 2013. Therefore the fiscal impact to the General Revenue Fund is negligible. Supplemental appropriations provided from other State and federal funds are provided on the basis of the availability of moneys in those funds.
* There are projects in the bill, but it’s mostly this stuff…
The legislation would put $675 million to work on road construction this spring after an unanticipated infusion of federal money and freed-up state funds. It moves $25 million saved from closing prisons to child-welfare services and authorizes a half-year’s payment for state employee health insurance.
The measure includes more than $600 million that will cover the health insurance costs of state workers during the second half of this fiscal year. The General Assembly approved that money last spring but only appropriated enough money for pay the costs for the first six months of the year.
Lawmakers hoped by now there would be new state-employee contracts that would incorporate provisions such as higher health-insurance premiums they agreed to last year, but contract talks still haven’t yielded a new pact.
Facing resistance from Republicans, House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie urged legislators to “do the right thing” and approve the bill that could save as many as 1,900 jobs at the Department of Children and Family Services. The agency has shuffled staff and eliminated middle-management positions; officials will use the $25 million to put 138 more child-abuse investigators on the street.
But GOP legislators cried foul, saying Democrats invariably “demonize” them for opposing such measures.
“I’m tired of the other side telling me I don’t care about anything,” said Rep. Dennis Reboletti, a Republican from Elmhurst. “Don’t tell me I don’t care about people with mental health issues.”
Reboletti challenged Currie to present a “clean bill” without what he said are new expenditures, and he would cooperate.