Governor JB Pritzker unveiled his administration’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24), a useful tool for lawmakers and advocates to get a sense of where the current administration wants to take the state fiscally. Even after a seemingly bleak financial outlook due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the State has continued to invest vital resources in the agencies and programs the environmental community depends on to protect our land, water, and air.
We were especially excited to see continued fiscal support for the transition to our clean energy future; the governor’s budget includes $20 million for rebates on electric vehicles and over $250 million for energy efficiency rebates for homeowner improvement projects. In addition, over $32 million is appropriated to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to pursue awards from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for energy efficiency programs.
As with previous budgets, there are areas of improvement IEC and our partners will fight for during the budget negotiation process. Perhaps the biggest issue we see is a substantial cut to state funding for Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) operations. This is disappointing because these groups are responsible for most of the voluntary conservation practice training in Illinois, a critical tool in reducing the impact of farming on our native flora and fauna. We will urge lawmakers to oppose this cut and substantially increase money for SWCDs to make up for prior years of fiscal strife.
COVID-19 safety measures meant that it was difficult over the last three years to access legislators, hold critical policy conversations in person, and build strong relationships with their offices. With most business functions restored at the Capitol and a new 103rd General Assembly in place, IEC is ready to hit the rail and continue fighting for increased resources necessary to protect the environment for all Illinoisans and generations to come.
More of our FY24 highlights below:
Agriculture and Conservation
- An overall increase of $30 million for the Department of Natural Resources budget!
- Level funding is maintained for the Illinois Department of Agriculture
- Unfortunately, the proposed budget includes a nearly 40% decrease in appropriations to Illinois’ Soil & Water Conservation Districts to only $8 million.
- $20 million to launch the Illinois Grocery Initiative, assisting municipalities and independent grocers to open or expand grocery stores in underserved rural towns and urban neighborhoods — with an additional $2 million going towards purchasing healthy, nutritious food from Illinois farmers
- Provides $2.5 million for a new Office of Outdoor Recreation to promote tourism at destinations around the State and grow the outdoor recreation economy of Illinois
- The Open Space Land Acquisition and Development fund is maintained at a historic level of $56 million for new awards in FY2024.
- $50 million share for the Brandon Road Ecosystem Project to block invasive carp species from entering the Great Lakes
- New $28 million appropriation for the federally funded Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement, which will support local, regional and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers through the purchase of local foods for distribution to food banks, schools and organizations that reach underserved communities.
Clean Energy and Transportation
- $20.5 million in electric vehicle rebates
- Nearly $264 million from the Inflation Reduction Act for household energy efficiency rebates
- Over $32 million appropriated to IEPA to pursue awards from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for energy efficiency programs
- Provides $10 million for a Clean Energy Career and Technical Education pilot initiative to assist high schools with developing curriculum and programming that supports electric vehicle manufacturing technical education
- $7 million for enforcement of the Clean Air Act and the Energy Transition Act, including a $2 million increase for expenses of air permitting and inspection activities
- $10 million in capital to lead service line inventory and planning grants and $107 million in new dollars for lead service line replacement loans
- $675 million in capital appropriations for water infrastructure, supported by the federal Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act
- $750k in funding for the implementation and administration of the Drug Take-Back Act to prevent improperly discarded medication from polluting our Illinois waterways
- $142.5 million to address toxic substances in drinking water, such as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through federal IIJA funds
- Allows appropriation flexibility for IEPA to pursue awards from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for energy efficiency programs and for a “Gulf Hypoxia” initiative to reduce the size of the low-oxygen, hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico