- Published: Friday, April 07, 2017 04:03 PM
Bipartisan legislation that would allow 124 Illinois prison nurses to breathe a sigh of relief about their future landed on the governor’s desk today, and two central Illinois senators who sponsored the measure are urging him to rethink his position on privatizing prison jobs.
“There is no evidence that outsourcing these jobs, as Gov. Rauner proposed, will save money. You can’t just look at one side of the ledger and claim you’re driving a bargain for taxpayers,” said Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and a sponsor of Senate Bill 19, which would protect the jobs of 322 state employees who work for the Illinois Department of Corrections as nurses, medical technicians and mental health professionals.
“This is especially true when you look at the cost of mismanagement in the prisons, at the cost of unemployment that comes from outsourcing, and the local economic cost of people earning lower wages when Gov. Rauner forces them to re-apply for their jobs with a private company, as he has proposed in the name of ‘savings.’”
Gov. Rauner in March announced he intends to lay off 124 unionized nurses employed by the Illinois Department of Corrections at 12 prisons around the state and outsource their positions to Wexford Health Sources, a Pennsylvania company. The layoffs would be effective June 15.
Senate Bill 19 would stop Rauner from proceeding with the plan. The Senate approved the legislation on March 29, and the House approved it Thursday.
“These health care professionals work in a dangerous environment and deserve far better than being laid off and forced to compete for their old jobs at lower pay. Let’s respect our workers and treat them fairly. That’s what this legislation does, and that’s why it won bipartisan support in both the House and Senate,” said State Senator Sam McCann, a Plainview Republican who sponsored the legislation.
“There is no reason we should be sending taxpayer money out of state when we can put it in the pockets of hard-working Illinois residents who live, work and pay taxes in the Land of Lincoln.”
Wexford currently has a 10-year, $1.4 billion contract to provide medical services in all Illinois prisons. The corporation has been sharply criticized for providing insufficient or improper medical care to inmates.