First, local governments and waste
treatment facilities are paying higher fees for landfill permits,
disposal fees and NPDES permits for waste water. This will generate
$13.8 million, $1.3 million and $23.4 million respectively, but not
for sewer and water programs. The money will pay for the budget
deficit, increased spending and new programs, leaving local
governments no choice but to adjust their own budgets or pass the
cost along to consumers.
At the same time, many state employees
are also helping to pay for the deficit. In fact, most took a 4
percent salary decrease beginning July 1, when the state stopped
paying their pension contributions. For those of you who do not work
for the state, imagine walking into work one day and finding out
your new boss was reducing your paycheck and expecting you to do
more work because half the office was either fired, took early
retirement, or fell victim to staff reductions and consolidation.
The budget does hold true to its
promises on education funding. Local school districts will receive
more money for the 2003-2004 school year, but if a pending measure
becomes law, they will also have to buy expensive automated external
defibrillators, called AEDs, and train their staff to use them in
case a student or teacher suffers a heart attack. This same mandate
would apply to gyms, parks, day-care centers, churches and any place
that offer fitness classes or equipment.
[to top of second
column in this article]
During the budget process, I tried to
work with the Democrats and help them solve the budget problem while
maintaining the state’s priorities. I supported some of their plans
for the budget and for public policy to keep the process moving and
because they were good for area residents.
However, I opposed the fee increases,
just as I opposed the mandated purchase of AEDs, because I believe
this is not the way to solve the state’s budget problems or to enact
policy. This is the way to create larger problems. Local governments
may be the first to voice their objections in light of the reality,
but I expect more surprises as the year progresses and the more than
300 fee increases find their way to consumers, business and
communities throughout Illinois.
If you have
any questions or comments regarding this or any other issue, please
feel free to contact me at (217) 782-0228 or (217) 732-4433.
Larry Bomke, 50th District]