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Quinn Targets State Employees for Layoff, Despite Deal

By Chris Bentley in News on Sep 6, 2011 8:20PM

Now that Labor Day has has passed we can return to the collective bargaining (or lack thereof) between Gov. Pat Quinn and state union workers targeted for layoffs amid mounting budgetary concerns.

Quinn defended his decision Tuesday to go back on a deal struck with union representatives last year that would have protected state workers from layoffs during the current budget crisis.

The Tribune reported today the governor plans to send pink slips to thousands of employees and announce the closing of several facilities, including a prison, juvenile detention center and homes for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled:

Quinn today would not provide specifics regarding the pending layoffs, saying he’ll go into detail later this week. But he blamed lawmakers for sending him a budget that was more than $2 billion less than he requested.

Representatives from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) condemned the announcement. AFSCME endorsed Quinn in the gubernatorial campaign last year on the heels of an agreement he struck with the union not to fire state workers before July 1, 2012.

That deal was subject to appropriations passed by the General Assembly, according to the governor. Quinn says the state legislature tied his hands by failing to authorize a bigger budget, and that he is legally authorized to do whatever is necessary to keep the state government fully functional through the end of the fiscal year.

But whether Quinn can ax state workers to help close the budget gap may ultimately be up to a judge. AFSCME successfully sued Quinn’s administration in 2009 to block more than 2,500 layoffs.