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Madigan Open To Discussing Ways To Avoid Layoffs

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Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

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CHICAGO (AP) – Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said he is open to reallocating state budget money to avoid numerous layoffs and facility closures proposed last week by Gov. Pat Quinn.

However, the Democratic speaker said the House intends to keep the spending limits it adopted for the budget and any changes won’t result in an overall spending increase.

Madigan’s comments on Saturday, according to the Chicago Tribune, follow Quinn’s proposal to lay off more than 1,900 workers and close seven state facilities, including a prison, juvenile detention center and homes for the mentally ill.

Quinn has said the layoffs and closures are necessary to live within the reduced budget passed by lawmakers unless they reallocate money. The cuts are estimated to save $54.8 million, still leaving a gap of nearly $183 million between the spending lawmakers authorized and what Quinn says is the minimum needed to operate Illinois government for a year.

The Democrat has blasted lawmakers for the cuts stemming from the budget they sent him in May that he could have vetoed but didn’t. He encouraged lawmakers to reallocate money to lessen the cuts or live with the consequences when they’re back in session next month.

Madigan has said, that despite Quinn’s words against lawmakers, he has told Madigan about plans to ask lawmakers to increase spending in some areas and make cuts in other areas during the fall session next month. Quinn doesn’t have the power to shift the money himself.

“(Quinn’s) representation to us is that where he proposes new spending, he would have commensurate reductions elsewhere,” Madigan said Saturday in Chicago, according to the Tribune. “Now, he hasn’t given us the reductions. But I’ve shared with him that if there are changes in the budget, they’ll be revenue neutral.”

Quinn’s office has said the governor has agreed to stay within the current spending level.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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