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Union: State Is Ramming Through Public Hearings On Facility Closures

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The largest union representing state of Illinois employees is suggesting that the state is trying to ram through public hearings on facility closures that will lead to numerous layoffs.

As WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is demanding more time for public comment on Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to close seven state facilities.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports

The union wants at least two weeks’ notice, and says public hearings should be held in the communities where the threatened facilities are located.

AFSCME says as they are planned now, the hearings will “depress turnout and stifle participation.”

Dan Long, director of the Commission for Government Forecasting and Accountability, is scheduling the hearings. Long says the union does not understand the logistics involved, or the timeline required by the state law governing facility closures.

The first hearing is Oct. 5, and deals with Singer Mental Health Center in Rockford.

Earlier this month, Gov. Quinn said he was moving to lay off more than 1,900 state workers and close seven facilities, and blamed Illinois lawmakers for sending him a budget that had $2.2 billion less in revenue than he wanted.

In addition to the Rockford facilities, among the institutions targeted by Quinn’s move are mental health centers in Tinley Park and Chester; facilities for the developmentally disabled in downstate Illinois; the Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro; and Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln.

AFSCME protested immediately, noting that in an election-year agreement, Quinn agreed not to enact any layoffs or close any state facilities through next June in exchange for employee concessions on pay and health care costs.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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