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Quinn announces deal to save Tinley Park Mental Health Center

Updated: December 30, 2011 8:23AM

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn and four legislative leaders struck an agreement late Monday to stave off the closures of Tinley Park Mental Health Center and six other state facilities and avert layoffs for 1,900 government workers, the governor’s office announced.

To pay for it, lawmakers Tuesday are expected to pass a $273 million measure reallocating existing state dollars through the end of June in a move one legislative source likened to “shaking the couch cushions.”

In a prepared statement issued late Monday, Quinn’s office made clear that no new state dollars would be used to pay for the agreement.

“After working closely with the General Assembly this veto session, we have reached a bipartisan budget agreement that achieves the goal of keeping the seven state facilities slated for closure open throughout this fiscal year using existing state resources,” the governor’s office statement said.

Quinn’s budget director, David Vaught, said that the largest funding piece of the deal involves using $100 million in budget cuts the governor made when he vetoed spending on school transportation and regional school superintendent salaries.

Another $95 million would come by diverting funds from the sale of unclaimed assets and another roughly $50 million would come, in part, from reduced workers compensation awards to government workers, delayed auto purchases and an end to a fund set up to help defend those facing the death penalty, Vaught said.

Last summer, citing state budget pressures, Quinn announced plans to mothball a prison, three mental health centers, two homes for the developmentally disabled and a juvenile detention center. All of the closures, except for Tinley Park’s facility, were targeted Downstate.

State government’s largest employee union welcomed word of a deal.

“While we have not seen the details of the agreement . . ., we believe it is a positive step toward saving jobs and averting harmful cuts to health care, prisons and other vital services,” Henry Bayer, executive director of AFSCME Council 31, said in a prepared statement.

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