Possible construction project freeze could impact prisons

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Compliance with federal court orders at Illinois’ prisons could be in jeopardy if Gov. Bruce Rauner shuts down hundreds of state construction projects next week.

The Republican says he’ll freeze projects if there’s not a budget deal by July 1. He’s vetoed 19 budget bills. Lawmakers gather in Springfield next week.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/1HipVLD) there are over 600 projects on the chopping block, including plans to build mental health treatment units at prisons in Pontiac, Lincoln and Joliet to comply with a proposed settlement in a federal lawsuit.

Sen. Pat McGuire is concerned about delaying the opening of facilities to help inmates.

A Department of Corrections spokeswoman says the budget impasse won’t impact treatment of inmates needing mental health services.

Rauner’s office declined comment.