Quinn indicates layoffs coming, another break to pact with union

September 7, 2011

(AP File/Seth Perlman)

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn said he'll announce further budget cuts later this week. Quinn indicated on Tuesday that will include layoffs, a move that would constitute another break from an agreement the governor made last year with the major state employee union.

Quinn would not say how many layoffs to expect.

"You know, we have to do what we have to do in order to make sure we get through this fiscal year with the appropriation that the General Assembly provided," Quinn said during a press conference at LaSalle II Magnet Academy in Chicago's East Ukrainian Village neighborhood.

Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, claims lawmakers didn't appropriate enough money for him to keep his agreement with AFSCME, the union representing thousands of state employees. Before last year's election, he signed a deal with the union, pledging not to close facilities or lay off any workers though June of 2012.

But he already broke part of the deal earlier this summer when he halted pay increases. That fight is still taking place in court.

"Those who are unhappy about any cuts really should visit their members of the General Assembly, their representatives and senators," Quinn said, while denying the layoff threat is just an effort to force lawmakers to appropriate more money.

A spokesman for House Speaker Mike Madigan said Tuesday that - to his knowledge - the speaker's staff has yet to hear anything from the governor's office regarding potential layoffs or facility closures.

The expected budget moves, which were reported Tuesday in the Chicago Tribune, would further strain Quinn's relationship with AFSCME.

"Anytime somebody enters into a contract, you expect them to live up to it. And anytime somebody gives you their word, you expect them to keep it," said Anders Lindall, an AFSCME spokesman.

During the 2010 election for governor, the union declined to endorse either Quinn or his opponent in the Democratic primary, then-Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes. AFSCME ultimately supported Quinn in the general election, donating more than $225,000 to his campaign.

Quinn's opponent in the November election, Republican state Sen. Bill Brady, on Tuesday released a statement chastising the governor for his budget maneuverings, while refusing to endorse any additional appropriations.

"Once again, Governor Quinn is betraying the citizens of Illinois and proving that his word is suspect," Brady said, referring to the governor's election year agreement with AFSCME as a "campaign deal."