Governor Blagojevich presented his FY2006 budget proposal on Wednesday. His proposal recognizes the difficulties at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), and while not reversing all of the cuts, begins to take a step back. The Governor is supporting Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal to eliminate a tax credit for landfill operators and use the money instead to support conservation programs.
The budget includes $2.2 million to hire 50 site technicians at state parks, 14 of whom would be recalled from the recent layoff and 36 new positions. The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is slated to receive $10 million, and Conservation 2000 gets $6.4 million plus about $7 million for project grants. Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF) is receiving about $1.5 million in new funding, while the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) fund remains at last year’s level. It was in last year’s budget address that Governor Blagojevich proposed a one year “holiday” from funding these programs.
One area of concern is the lack of funding for the Tri-County State Park. Currently funded by the State and operated by the DuPage County Forest Preserve District, the budget includes no money for the park’s operations, and its future is unclear.
Illinois EPA has some new funding as well. The budget includes $17 million for the cleanup of Lake Calumet area, $2 million for other brownfields sites, and $5.5 million for a new landfill enforcement effort.
Governor Blagojevich also pledged that ten percent of any new bonds issued for capital improvements will be set aside for environmental projects.
The final budget will be negotiated between now and the end of the legislative session by the Governor and the four legislative leaders. To view a transcript of Governor Blagojevich’s speech, visit www.state.il.us/budget.