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A Pair of Lawsuits for Quinn

By Kevin Robinson in News on Aug 26, 2009 2:00PM

2009_8_Illinois_State_Seal.gif As Governor Quinn struggles to find ways to balance the state budget without help from the General Assembly, an unlikely duo of litigants have filed separate suits to stop cuts in state spending and further tax hikes. AFSCME, the largest public employee union in the state filed suit in Johnson County earlier this week to prevent the 2,600 layoffs that Quinn has threatened to impose if an agreement can't be reached the cut the state's payroll obligations. And Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz has filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court, challenging the constitutionality of the state’s new video poker law as well as liquor, candy and a menu of other tax increases set to take effect September 1.

“AFSCME and our members are using every tool to prevent layoffs and the harm they will cause,” said Henry Bayer, the union's executive director. “Frontline staff shortages have already eroded the timeliness and quality of basic services.'' Wirtz, who also runs a major liquor distributorship in the state, says that he's challenging the tax increases because of the swift and targeted way that lawmakers presented the tax. “There were no public hearings,” he he told the Tribune. “It reminds you of the little Dutch boy putting his finger in the dike.” Wirtz's lawsuit also charges that the new video poker law doesn't comply with federal gambling laws, including a portion of the plan that hands management of the system over to a private firm.

Quinn has said publicly that he will meet with AFSCME negotiators early next month to discuss possibilities for closing the state's budget shortfall, but said that cost-cutting requires "shared sacrifice" by state employees.