BRADY SAYS SOLUTION FOR OVERTIME PAY AT DOC IS HIRING NEW EMPLOYEES
According to an investigation from the Associated Press overtime pay for guards in Illinois’ prisons increased 34 percent last year. The rise in overtime corresponded with the shuttering of several facilities, and according to State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) the solution to combat soaring overtime costs is to hire more full time employees, which would not only save the state money on overtime pay, but would also increase the safety and security of Illinois’ correctional facilities.
“Over the last year the state has closed several correctional facilities, contributing to overcrowding in Illinois’ prisons and increasing the number of overtime hours our guards are working,” said Brady. “Of course the overtime costs the state a lot of money, but it also raises questions of safety for the guards and inmates. The more overtime these guards have to work the harder it becomes for them to stay focused which compromises safety for everyone.”
After reading the AP report Brady reviewed what it would cost to hire new employees in order to reduce overtime and increase safety in Illinois’ prisons. For the same amount of money that was spent on overtime, DOC could have hired 1,000 new guards, reduced overtime, and improved safety conditions in Illinois’ correctional facilities. Going forward Brady suggests that hiring new staff may be the way to go.
“The bottom line is that Illinois’ prison system is overcrowded. Facilities are holding about 16,600 more inmates than the system was designed to accommodate and that reduces safety. Hiring more guards is a better investment than continuing to pay over-time, and an investment to ensure that our correctional facilities are safer and more secure.”
BRADY CO-SPONSORS HEALTH ALLIANCE RESOLUTION
Controversy surrounding the decision not to accept Health Alliance Medical Plans as one of the providers for Medicare Advantage plans for State retirees has continued after it was discovered that Health Alliance actually underbid all four competitors eventually chosen to offer the plans. Some retirees have been left to wonder whether they will be allowed to continue relationships with preferred healthcare providers. State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) has co-sponsored a resolution seeking to reopen the bidding process in order to allow a regional HMO provider under the Medicare Advantage program.
Supporters of the resolution cite estimated savings for the state under Health Alliance’s coverage options as the primary reason for a new bidding process. Projections show that Health Alliance’s bid cost 24-120 percent less than the comparable bids that were accepted by the state’s Central Management Services CMS. Taxpayers stood to save an additional $60-280 million over the life of a 10-year contract with Health Alliance.
BILLS SENT TO THE SENATE
During the first week of the fall veto session, the House sent four measures to the Senate, which must now review and approve or reject amendments added in the House.
These measures include:
Weber Road Interchange (SB 1219): This measure will allow the Illinois Department of Transportation to begin work on the Weber Road interchange project along Interstate 55 in Will County, without the sale of land previously authorized. In the 95th General Assembly, HB 735 linked the project to the sale of surplus property owned by the Illinois Department of Corrections. However, the estimated value of the land has dropped significantly in recent years and the Department of Transportation does not want to sell it in the current market.
Doctor Licensing (SB 1496): Extends the Medical Practice Act for one year until December 31, 2014.
Chester School Construction (SB 1595): Allows Chester Community Unit School District #139 to proceed with an emergency project to replace a condemned gymnasium and classrooms. The school district has qualified for a school construction grant, but the project has been delayed because of the need to get certification from the United States Green Building Council. This would allow the district to receive the grant and proceed without that certification.
Sex Offender Treatment (SB 1600): This is a follow up to the state’s Sex Offender Evaluation and Treatment Provider Act. It provides alternate methods of meeting qualifications for licensure under the Act. Without these changes, there is concern that the state will not have enough evaluators and treatment providers to provide the needed services to meet the state’s mandates for treatment and evaluation of sex offenders.
TRACKING LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCES
Thanks to “The Warehouse,” a new website launched by Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, local government finances are now easier to track.
This site compiles more than 9,200 financial reports from local units of government across the state. It was designed to increase accountability measures for local spending in counties, municipalities, and special taxing districts.
GOVERNOR WANTS MORE MONEY
Reportedly, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is seeking to add about $221 million in new spending to the current fiscal year budget.
Just over half of those funds, $112 million, would be used to pay back wages owned to about 25,000 state workers as a result of a lawsuit the administration lost. Quinn had refused to pay workers raises required under the state’s labor contract arguing that the legislature’s failure to include the money in a previous budget allowed him to skip the payments.
The administration also wants to add about $40.5 million to the state Department of Corrections budget. A request that is also likely to be controversial since the Governor closed several correctional facilities last year saying it would save the state money. Another $34 million is being sought by Quinn in order to implement the state’s new Right-to-Carry law.
NEW CHIEF JUSTICE FOR STATE SUPREME COURT
The Illinois Supreme Court has a new chief justice! On October 28 Justice Rita Garman of Danville was sworn in as the new Chief Justice at the Vermilion County Courthouse in Danville.
Garman has served on the state Supreme Court since 2001 and is the first of the state’s top jurists to have served in virtually every judicial capacity on circuit, appellate and Supreme courts. She began her legal career with the Vermilion County Legal Aid Society and has been a judge since 1974.