Quinn’s attempt to sell southern Illinois prison could compete with effort to open Thomson

Online Staff Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s (D) offer last week to sell a state prison in southern Illinois to the federal government could doom a two-year effort by Illinois’ Congressional delegation to create more than 1,100 jobs in northwest Illinois by opening the vacant Thomson Correctional Center as a federal prison.

In a letter to the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons released June 29, Quinn said the 14-year-old Tamms supermax prison — which still houses state prisoners — would be a valuable addition to the federal prison system. Quinn’s offer to sell the Tamms Correctional Center comes on the heels of ongoing efforts by U.S. Reps. Don Manzullo, R-Ill., Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., and other members of Illinois’ Congressional delegation to ink a deal for the federal government to purchase the vacant state prison in Thomson, Ill., and open it as a maximum-security federal prison, creating more than 1,100 much-needed jobs in northwest Illinois.

With his new offer to sell the Tamms state prison to the federal government, Gov. Quinn may have doomed our efforts to open Thomson as a federal prison and create more than 1,100 jobs in northern Illinois,” Manzullo said. “In these very tight financial times, we have been working hard to find the federal money needed to buy Thomson, and now the governor has thrown a new option on the table that will compete with our efforts. The federal government certainly doesn’t have the money to buy two state prisons in Illinois.”

Schilling added: “The Illinois delegation has been working closely to find a bipartisan way to advance Thomson Prison. But to really move this forward, we need the governor to focus in on and join us in our efforts. I remain optimistic that we can get Thomson opened, and will continue working to see it through.”

The operation of Thomson as a federal prison is expected to create more than 1,100 jobs and provide $19 million in local labor income and $61 million in local business sales each year. Total local economic impact, both direct and indirect, is expected to be at least $202 million each year. That annual economic impact would provide more than $20 million in direct federal income tax revenue, $6.2 million in direct state income tax revenue, and $3.8 million in sales tax revenue.

Posted July 3, 2012

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