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Ill. House holds purse in battle over prison money

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, rebuffed by the Senate on Wednesday in his attempt to steer money from prisons to child protection, now takes his case to the House, which holds the purse strings on the Democrat’s plan to shutter state facilities.

The Senate voted, 35-16, to reject Quinn’s effort to move the $57 million as part of a budget veto.

The action sends the issue to the House, where an override would not force the Democratic governor to keep two targeted prisons and juvenile detention centers open, but would prohibit him from spending the money elsewhere.

“He’s talking to lawmakers and will impress upon them that the money is better spent on kids than on prisons” the administration considers underutilized and unnecessary, Quinn budget spokesman Abdon Pallasch said.

The House canceled today’s portion of the fall session and likely will consider the budget vote in the final three days of the session scheduled next week.

Lawmakers objected to the Democratic governor’s plan last spring to close prisons at Tamms and Dwight, and youth centers in Joliet and Murphysboro, sending him a budget with money to keep them open. Quinn wanted to divert that money to the Department of Children and Family Services.

The Democrat used his veto power to slice money for operating the four facilities from the budget. Should the House follow the Senate’s lead and snub the governor, Quinn won’t be forced to spend the money to keep the facilities open, but he’ll be unable to spend the money on anything else.

In other business Wednesday, the Senate adopted a plan to require some corporations to disclose what they pay in income tax, rejected legislation Quinn rewrote to ban assault weapons and sent to Quinn a plan the governor supports to subsidize state park repairs with a $2 license plate surcharge.

The House adopted a resolution that recommends no pay raise this year for unionized state workers; set a special congressional election for the seat held by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned; and voted to give the Chicago Public Schools more time to announce what schools it plans to close.

An anticipated House tally on allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes was put on hold as the Democratic sponsor continues to woo “yes” votes.

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