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Quinn to close Jacksonville, Ill. developmental center

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn.
(via Flickr/ChrisEaves.com)
Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn.

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

Governor Pat Quinn announced this afternoon that he plans to close the Jacksonville Developmental Center and Tinley Park Mental Health Center.

Jacksonville is located about 90 miles north of St. Louis.

Quinn's office is calling the closures a "rebalancing."

The Governor plans to move institutionalized patients with developmental disabilities and mental illness to community-based settings.

In a statement, Quinn says it will improve their quality of life. But it also means savings to the state.

The administration estimates it'll save nearly $12 million per year by closing the Jacksonville facility, and another $8 million annually once Tinley Park is shuttered.   

Much of those savings will come through laying off state employees.

Republican Representative Jim Watson, who represents Jacksonville, says that will mean turmoil for his community, and for some of the legal guardians who have long entrusted their loved ones to be cared for in Jacksonville.

"If you were the parent, if it was one of your loved ones there, what would you know right now about their future, where they're going?" Watson said. "What if you were a 75-year-old sick parent and you know where your child is now.  And you hear this, nobody has called you and talked to you about it.  I don't think those people feel very secure at all."

Watson's hopeful the General Assembly will be able to stop the governor's plan. Quinn had previously moved to close seven state facilities, but lawmakers reached an agreement to prevent it.

Tinley Park is slated to close in July, with Jacksonville to follow in October.

Quinn's office says in the next couple years, it plans to close up to three more state institutions for the developmentally disabled.