* Kerry Lester…
I was tipped that 177 Cook County workers who enforce child support agreements are expected to be laid off next month as yet another result of the state budget standoff.
County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office reports the county has been shifting money from its general funds to keep the program afloat. But the state owes $12.4 million and the county is unable to keep the program going without those funds past June 30.
* Mark Brown…
Illinois’ budget standoff hit home for Rachel Grainer in a way she never would have anticipated.
The 79-year-old Oak Park woman, just home from a hospital stay, was shocked to receive a letter from her mortgage company in March demanding that Grainer immediately pay her overdue real estate taxes and threatening to force her to open an escrow account for future taxes.
Grainer thought there must be some mistake. That’s because she is among hundreds of Chicago area homeowners who participate in the state’s Senior Citizens Real Estate Tax Deferral Program. […]
But Grainer was among 290 Cook County residents whose taxes totaling $943,663 went unpaid last year because the state did not remit the money to the county as promised.
The reason: no state budget, therefore no legal authority for the Illinois Department of Revenue to make the payments, the same Catch 22 facing dozens of state programs during the impasse.
* John O’Connell…
The current state budget crisis is having an extreme negative effect on wildlife and fisheries management in Illinois. Federal excise taxes, such as the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (Dingell-Johnson Act) and the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act) were created to provide federal monies for the management and restoration of fish and wildlife. When sportsmen purchase ammunition, firearms, and fishing equipment, they are contributing to these funds, with the knowledge that the money collected will be redistributed to the states for the enhancement and management of wildlife, angling, and associated recreational activities.
It should be simple; the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is billed for expenditures on projects approved for federal grant-in-aid funding and, in turn, bills the federal agencies that have allocated the funds. These funds are then reimbursed and are thus often referred to as “flow-through” funding. Unfortunately, the flow has been blocked; the IDNR is not currently authorized to reimburse projects due to the budget impasse. An immediate solution would be to issue a spending authority to the IDNR explicitly for these specific accounts, regardless of budget status. This can happen without the passing of the state budget; similar spending bills have already been issued by the state general assembly for other purposes during the impasse. If Illinois does not authorize the spending of these funds soon, they will be forfeited, a serious injustice to the fish and wildlife of the state as well as the sportsmen who paid into the funds.