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This is The Players, your update on who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to. We encourage you to comment on Illinois leadership.Amanda Vinicky curates this blog that will provide follow-up to full-length stories, links to other reports of interest, statistics, and conversations with you about the issues and stories.

Nearly 200 State Workers Will Be Laid Off

Capitol in fog
Amanda Vinicky
NPR Illinois

State employees have begun receiving pink slips, as a budget impasse looms -- a total of 171 workers will lose their jobs. Workers have gotten notice that they'll be out of work by the end of September.

Those impacted are at the state's economic development and emergency management agencies, the commerce commission and the department of transportation. Plus, more than one hundred Dept. of Natural Resources employees. The move comes as Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to close the Illinois State Museum and a shooting complex in Sparta.

Rauner says he'd prefer not to shutter the facilities, "but we've got to manage within our means. Right now we don't have a budget, we're running short of resources, and we've got to take management actions to get through this process as best we can. I don't want to have to make cuts and close facilities."

A bipartisan legislative commission voted 7 to 2 Wednesday to keep the state museum and the Hardin County prison work camp open, but that's a non-binding recommendation.

The layoffs are moving forward as Democrats continue to say Rauner is evading their questions about tucking six-figure salaries of his top staff into other agencies' budgets. House Speaker Michael Madigan brought that up when a reporter asked him for a reaction to the layoffs: "Will that apply to those high-priced consultants that he's off-shoring?" Madigan asked.

The answer, presumably, is no; Rauner's office didn't immediately comment.

The governor's office blames Madigan for the layoffs saying in a statement that "Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls passed an unbalanced budget that was $4 billion short," and the layoffs are part of dealing with it. A letter from a Rauner legislative chief to the Democratic legislator leading the investigation into the governor's office's spending on salaries says the comparison of such information is available online, and points out that Rauner himself takes no salary.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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