Illinois prison officials want more money

2013-04-24T20:00:00Z Illinois prison officials want more moneyKurt Erickson Lee Springfield Bureau
April 24, 2013 8:00 pm  • 

SPRINGFIELD | State prison officials are predicting more problems at the embattled Illinois Department of Corrections if lawmakers don’t give them more money to operate in coming weeks.

In a Senate hearing Wednesday, Corrections budget chief Brian Gleckler said the department is requesting about $41.8 million to finish out the fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The money is needed because Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration was ordered to pay wage hikes to employees it had withheld during tight budget times two years ago.

State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, asked what would happen if the additional cash isn’t approved.

“We will not be able to meet our payroll obligations,” Gleckler said.

If paychecks are delayed beginning next month, Gleckler said, some Corrections employees might not show up for work.

“That certainly, Senator, is a doomsday scenario,” Gleckler said.

The situation represents the newest wrinkle in the tumultuous oversight of the $1 billion-plus agency, which houses about 49,000 prisoners in space built for 32,000 inmates.

Despite the overcrowding, Quinn has closed prison facilities in Tamms, Dwight, Carbondale, Decatur and elsewhere in order to cut costs. Rising personnel costs, however, have eaten up that projected savings in the budget proposed for the next fiscal year.

It remained unclear Wednesday whether the House and Senate are preparing any legislation that would funnel more money to the agency this year.

“That’s all kind of under review at this point,” said Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

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