An agreement announced today is expected to spare 80 jobs for the Cook County state's attorney and public defender's offices.
But layoffs of non-lawyers are also expected in both of those offices due to budget cuts, officials said.
The state's attorney's office still expects to lose about 70 support staff positions due to budget cuts, said Sally Daly, spokeswoman for the office. Those employees are considered essential personnel, she said.
"While we're happy with the restoration, we're still very concerned about the level of cuts this office is being forced to take," Daly said.
The office will not lose any lawyer positions under an amendment pending before the county board, Daly said.
The county board is meeting today to vote on the fiscal 2012 budget.
The restoration of $4.5 million in funds to both offices followed negotiations between officials with those offices and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's office.
"After multiple conversations with the state's attorney and public defender's office and my colleagues on the county board, it became clear that this funding was essential to the administration of public safety in Cook County," Preckwinkle said in a press release. "This agreement is a testament to the collaboration that took place throughout the budget process and that commitment will continue after the final vote is taken today."
The funding would restore 15 lawyers, 14 victim witness employees, five investigators and eight support staff to the state's attorney's office, Daly said.
The public defender's office would restore 10 lawyers, 27 investigators and one administrative assistant under the amendment, said Patrick G. Reardon, first assistant public defender.
But that office also expects to lose about 17 support staff due to budget cuts, Reardon said.
"We are losing people that are valuable," Reardon said.
Among those expected to be laid off are three "readers" who help visually impaired lawyers working as assistant public defenders, Reardon said.
Support staff employees in the state's attorney's and public defender's offices are represented by AFSCME Council 31, which represents a total of about 5,000 Cook County employees.
Henry Bayer, AFSCME Council 31's executive director, said a proposal to place an additional 1 cent for each cigarette tax in Cook County was voted down at today's county board meeting. That tax money could have generated funds to avert the layoffs, he said.
"Our take is it is totally unnecessary for these layoffs to happen," Bayer said. "This is going to have a harmful impact on the offices.
"If the support staff aren't there, it means the attorneys are going to have to do (support-staff work), which is not an efficient way of getting things done."
When the budget process started several months ago, the state's attorney's office was asked to cut its budget by $10.5 million, Daly said. During negotiations between the state's attorney's office and Preckwinkle's office, that amount was reduced to $6.1 million, she said.
When Cook County State's Attorney Anita M. Alvarez made her budget presentation to the county board finance committee 10 days ago, she explained proposed budget cuts of $6.1 million would result in the layoff of 113 employees, Daly said.
Following that presentation, more negotiations ensued between the offices of Preckwinkle and Alvarez, Daly said.
Under today's agreement, about $2.5 million in funding would be restored to the state's attorney's office, Daly said.