* From The Center Square…
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is overworked and understaffed to the point that it is putting residents’ health in danger, according to a report from the University of Chicago.
“Despite the laudable efforts of many IEPA employees, the agency lacks the assets it needs to protect the environment and public health sufficiently,” the report said. “These deficiencies hinder its capacity to execute its historical mission and are barriers to overcome if Illinois chooses to step up efforts to ensure that environmental protection is not compromised.”
The report said the agency’s workforce has been cut by about 50 percent from 2003 to 2018. At the same time, the agency has been given more responsibility for regulating businesses and less in federal support in recent years. Mark Templeton, clinical professor of law at the University of Chicago, said the department isn’t capable of doing all it should to protect residents. […]
Since 2003, inspections of air-pollutant emitting facilities have declined by 81 percent, air-monitoring technology throughout the state is outdated and needs to be replaced, the report said.
The solution, the report said, is more funding from the state in the form of increased business fees and statewide charges on plastic bags and bottles and a statewide stormwater fee.
“There are costs that are incurred from, for example, runoff that picks up pollutants,” Templeton said. “The idea is to encourage practices such as retaining stormwater on property or building what’s called green infrastructure.”
IEPA spokeswoman Kim Biggs said the agency was working with Gov. J.B. Pritzker to find solutions.
“The Illinois EPA appreciates the report’s acknowledgment of some of the challenges faced by state government regulators,” she said. “Like many Illinois state agencies, headcount and resources have decreased steadily over a number of years and under a number of directors and administrations. The Pritzker Administration and the Illinois EPA have been actively working to boost hiring, find creative ways to increase revenues, and effectively enforce environmental laws and regulations.”
* That story prompted this reply by the Republican Governors Association…
No stranger to tax hikes, Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker is looking to impose even more egregious costs on working families. In his first year as governor, Pritzker pushed for 19 tax hikes totaling nearly $7 billion, setting the tone for an administration hellbent on paying for his big government agenda out of taxpayers’ pockets.
Now Pritzker is at it again. He’s already thrown his weight behind a plan to scrap Illinois’ flat tax, and has donated $5 million of his own money to support a ballot initiative to implement a $3.4 billion progressive income tax that could cost a typical Illinois family up to $3,500.
But that’s not all! Behind the scenes, Pritzker appears be interested in following in the footsteps of failed New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and former Maryland Governor Martin “Unidentified Man” O’Malley by taxing the rain.
A blistering new report from the University of Chicago characterizes Pritzker’s Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) as, “overworked and understaffed to the point that it is putting residents’ health in danger.” The proposed fix? New fees on plastic bags and bottles and “a statewide stormwater fee” – a.k.a. a rain tax.
True to form, Pritzker’s administration left the door wide open to imposing a rain tax on Illinois citizens. A spokeswoman for the IEPA stated that the agency and Pritzker “have been actively working to…find creative ways to increase revenues.”
“Illinois taxpayers know all too well that when Governor Pritzker gets ‘creative’ with raising revenues, it means more money out of their pockets,” said RGA Communications Director Amelia Chassé Alcivar. “Illinois residents already pay the highest total tax rate in the country, but instead of running an efficient and effective government, Governor Pritzker continues to treat working families and small businesses as his administration’s piggy bank.”
* I asked the Pritzker administration for a response and this is from Press Secretary Jordan Abudayyeh…
Nice to see the RGA using their post-Kentucky and Louisiana free time to come on over to Illinois and make stuff up. While you won’t find any rain taxes here, what you will find is a governor working with bipartisan legislators to pass a balanced budget, cut taxes on business while creating tax credits for apprenticeship programs and R&D, and launching the first bipartisan capital plan in more than a decade. Sorry to rain on this parade, but these silly attacks from Republicans in DC just don’t hold water.
That response had some real zing to it.