A Weekly Update on Issues with Illinois State Senator Gary Forby... 

Last week, I called for a vote on my legislation that would have given the General Assembly a voice in the state service center closure process.  I was frustrated that a group from the other side of the aisle joined forces with Governor Pat Quinn and other Chicago politicians to defeat my plan, which came up just one vote short.

Ever since the governor gave his budget speech in February, I have been fighting to keep open important state facilities that provide important services and serve as the backbone of the economy in areas with high unemployment rates like Alexander County.  In particular, I’ve been fighting for Tamms Correctional Center, which keeps the worst of the worst out of the general population where they have a history of assaulting guards and other inmates, and for Murray Developmental Center in Centralia, which is the only state-run facility in Southern Illinois that provides families with care for their loved ones with developmental disabilities.  Since Tamms was built, violence in Illinois’ overcrowded prisons has dropped, and the waiting list for space in Murray is more than 3,000 long.

To protect these facilities—and others—from the whims of Illinois governors, I introduced a plan that would allow the General Assembly to vote before any service center closes.  Considering these facilities provide important services, cost millions of dollars to build and maintain, and provide thousands of jobs in places like Alexander County, I think letting any one person have the authority to close them is dangerous and short-sighted.  The people elect state senators and representatives to give them a voice, and we should have a say in facility closures.

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Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

A Weekly Update on Issues with Illinois State Senator Gary Forby... 

Last week, the ongoing debate about whether or not to close several major state service centers took another turn.  A bipartisan legislative committee made up of members of the Illinois Senate and House voted to accept or reject the governor’s plans to close Tamms Correctional Center, Murray Developmental Center, and several other state facilities.  The good news for Southern Illinois is that the committee rejected Governor Pat Quinn of Chicago’s plans for Tamms and Murray.  The bad news is that their recommendation isn’t legally binding.

Years ago, the governor had the authority to close state service centers without even consulting the legislators who represent the people who depend on their services or who live nearby.  Everyone thought that this situation wasn’t fair, so the General Assembly passed a law requiring the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability—a bipartisan legislative commission that deals with the budget—to hold hearings and make recommendations whenever a facility employs more than 25 people.

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Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

A Weekly Update on Issues with Illinois State Senator Gary Forby... 

At this point, the Spring 2012 session of the General Assembly is about halfway over.  We still have some big issues ahead of us, including balancing the state budget and possibly considering proposals to make changes to the state’s public employee pension systems and Medicaid.  However, today I want to talk about some legislation that I am sponsoring in the Illinois Senate.

One of the most important proposals I am pushing is a plan to help the people of Harrisburg and surrounding communities that were hit by terrible storms and tornadoes earlier this year recover.  Under this plan, anyone whose home was destroyed by a natural disaster will receive property tax relief to help them recover from the disaster.  Essentially, their property values will be frozen at the level they were at before the storm, so their property tax payment will only go up if rates go up for everyone.

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Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

A Weekly Update on Issues with Illinois State Senator Gary Forby... 

Last week, the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CoGFA) held an important hearing about the future of Tamms Correctional Center at Shawnee Community College.  The Commission gave legislators, prison workers, local citizens, and others a chance to speak out about Governor Pat Quinn of Chicago’s plan to close the state of Illinois’ only super-max prison.  I joined members of the local community to explain the negative effects closing Tamms will have on the safety of state prisons and the economy of Alexander County and surrounding communities.

Tamms was built to hold the worst of the worst—violent men who have been convicted of multiple counts of rape and murder, men who have assaulted or killed guards or other inmates, and gang leaders who are still a danger to the public even when they are in prison.  Even the Quinn administration will admit that Illinois’ prison system is already overcrowded, but the governor wants to move these extremely dangerous men back into the general population, sending them to Pontiac or Menard Correctional Centers.  Menard already has 521 more inmates than it was built to hold.  It has the worst staff-to-inmate ratio of any maximum security prison and was on lockdown for about half the time in 2010-2011.  Pontiac, the state’s oldest prison (built in 1871), has room for 90 more men before it reaches its intended capacity.  There are more than 90 extremely dangerous men at Tamms.

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Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

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