The fall veto session came to a close Wednesday with no override vote by the Illinois House on Gov. Pat Quinn’s plans to close two state prisons and two youth detention centers.
The lack of action allows Quinn to move forward with the closures and either re-purpose the money – which he said he’d like to do – or reduce the state’s massive budget deficit – which he probably should do.
We don’t like that the state’s fiscal situation is so dire that such drastic action, which will result in hundreds of job losses, is necessary.
But we can’t argue with the facts. The state is broke, and taxpayers are fed up with being forced to give more, particularly after the fiasco that was last year’s 67 percent income tax increase. That increase was billed as temporary but likely won’t be. The new revenue was supposed to be used to pay down the state’s billions of dollars in overdue bills. Instead, most of the money has gone to pay for Illinois’ exploding – and unaffordable – public pension obligations.
The underutilized facilities Quinn plans to close are the high-security prison in Tamms, a women’s prison in Dwight and juvenile detention facilities in Joliet and Murphysboro. We understand lawmakers from these areas oppose these closures.
The House last week voted to override Quinn’s veto of a spending plan that included funding for the four facilities. But without a Senate override, the veto stands.
Just about everyone is in favor of shrinking government nowadays, just as long as it doesn’t affect me and my own. That’s not the way it needs to work if we’re truly serious about righting the state’s fiscal ship.
Tough spending decisions need to be made. Some government services need to be scaled back. And some facilities will need to close.
That’s the fiscal reality.