State Workers Protest Proposed Budget Cuts
State workers demonstrated at dozens of locations around Illinois on Thursday protesting Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed budget cuts that would eliminate 3,000 state jobs.
At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, about 20 members of AFSCME Local 2971 marched outside the State Regional Office Building on South 1st Street. The local represents state workers in a nine-county area. And its president, Rebecca Hardin, said the governor's cuts would close two state police dispatch centers in her region --- part of consolidation plan reducing the number of centers statewide to just four. Hardin said employees at the Ashkum and Pesotum call centers who are not laid off would have to transfer to Springfield or Des Plaines to keep their jobs.
"So they'll be in charge of counties that they're unfamiliar with," Hardin said. "It's going to put a lot of harm and risk on the troopers. It's going to be a very stressful job, because the people are so dedicated to handling the calls and knowing the areas, and they're not going to know those areas."
Quinn's proposals would also close state Human Service offices in Edgar and Douglas Counties. Residents of those counties who receive services such as LINK cards and Medicaid would have to travel to other counties when they need to visit a DHS office.
Other proposals around the state would close prisons in Dwight and Tamms, and a developmental center in Jacksonville.
AFSCME spokesperson Tara McCauley said none of the governor's cuts are needed to balance the budget. Instead, she says the governor and lawmakers should undo the tax breaks recently granted for corporations like Sears. Those breaks came one year after a lame-duck Illinois legislature passed a state income tax increase.
Meanwhile, AFSCME is negotiating a new contract with the state, but McCauley said she does not think Quinn's proposed cuts have anything to do with the bargaining process. The current AFSCME contract expires June 30.
(Photo by Jim Meadows/WILL)