Updated 10/03/11 – 4:22 p.m.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — An arbitrator has ruled that Gov. Pat Quinn may not lay off more than 1,900 state employees and close seven state facilities, because the move would violate a deal with a state labor union.
Arbitrator Edwin Benn ruled Monday that the governor’s layoff plan would violate a deal he signed last year, promising no layoffs or facility closures if the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees agreed to a number of concessions on pay and benefits.
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Quinn had argued that he was no longer bound by that deal because state lawmakers sent him a budget that didn’t include enough spending to cover the state’s expenses for a full fiscal year.
But Benn’s ruling said that doesn’t matter — that the governor’s deal with AFSCME is not cancelled because of the state’s financial problems.
Quinn’s office said they plan to appeal Benn’s ruling.
“The actions taken by the Administration last month are necessary to manage a budget that underfunded the operational and personnel lines in a number of state agencies. This ruling does not change the fact that the money to run all these facilities for the entire year was not appropriated by the General Assembly. You can’t spend money you don’t have,” Quinn said in a prepared statement. “Arbitrator Benn concedes that he does not have jurisdiction over the Illinois Constitution and statutes that apply to this issue, and both the Constitution and statutes remain to be addressed by the courts.”
Quinn is already fighting a similar ruling over canceling union raises.
He announced the plans for layoffs and facility closures last month, blaming Illinois lawmakers for sending him a budget that had $2.2 billion less in revenue than he wanted.
Quinn said he signed that budget even though he didn’t like it because he didn’t want to give Republicans leverage to demand more “radical” cuts to state spending.
Quinn could have vetoed the spending plan, but that would have given Republicans more of a say in crafting the state’s budget.
The cuts Quinn proposed were estimated to save $54.8 million, still leaving a gap of nearly $183 million between the spending lawmakers authorized and what the governor says is the minimum needed to operate Illinois government for a year.
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