The governor is raiding a number of
funds -- including agriculture funds -- to fill the budget gap and
pay for his excessive spending. This year, he has floated fees on ag
inputs such as feed, seed and weed killer to help generate revenue
for another year of excessive spending. At the same time he has
eliminated funding for the Illinois Council for Food and Agriculture
Research and has floated the idea of capping or restructuring
subsidies to the horse-racing industry.
Our local communities have already been
hit hard by last year's tax and fees increases -- more than 300 fees
that affect consumers throughout Illinois. This year the governor is
looking to agriculture to pay for his excessive spending. Placing
this great a burden on agriculture will negatively affect our rural
communities, our farms and our agriculture-based industries. The
stability of our local economies is at stake. That is why we need to
put an end to the governor's tactics.
The governor has four specific hits on
agriculture that trouble me and my Senate Republican colleagues.
First is the repeal of the state's
"feed and seed" sales tax exemption for farmers with a gross income
of more than $1 million. The Illinois Farm Bureau estimates
increased costs for corn and soybean farmers of about $7.63 per acre
for corn and $4.59 for soybeans. Increased fee costs will mean
livestock producers will pay more per animal. The costs for hog
producers will be as much as $3.30 more per pig; for cow-calf
operators, $2.74 more per head; and for dairy operators, $91 more
per head. All told, this tax increase will generate only $27 million
for the state. A better option would be to eliminate the proposed
$26 million taxpayer-funded book-a-month club.
Next, the governor proposes funding
cuts in the Department of Agriculture by 10.7 percent and
elimination of more than 100 jobs. The governor also raids several
ag funds and transfers this money into other funds, including the
General Revenue Fund, to pay the state's day-to-day operating costs.
Gov. Blagojevich also proposes
eliminating funding for the Council on Food and Agriculture
Research, which supports agricultural and food products research
grants to the University of Illinois and other public universities
as authorized by the Food and Agriculture Research Act. This program
works on behalf of relevant and high-quality research and
profitable, consumer-sensitive and environmentally sound products
for food and agricultural systems in Illinois.
[to top of second column in
Finally, he proposed capping or
restructuring funding in the horse-racing industry, which provides
more than 37,000 Illinois jobs and is responsible for more than $1.4
billion in economic activity statewide.
My Senate Republicans colleagues and I
are calling upon the agriculture community to join us in fighting
against these harmful steps by the Blagojevich administration. I
urge those individuals and groups who depend on agriculture to sign
petitions, pass resolutions and send a clear message to the governor
and the Democratic majority that Illinois will not tolerate the "War
Originally, the governor had also
proposed gutting the Department on Agriculture by transferring
important segments to the Department of Natural Resources and the
Environmental Protection Agency. After our initial grass-roots
efforts, the governor rescinded those attempts and promised to the
leave the department intact.
This is our first victory, but we need
to keep pressure on the governor to rescind his other, more harmful
attacks on Illinois agriculture. My Senate Republican colleagues and
I are organizing a petition drive to show support for agriculture
and opposition to the governor's harmful fees. In central Illinois,
petitions are available through my office, Sen. Brady's office and
Sen. Rutherford's office and through your local farm bureaus and
To sign a petition or get copies to
circulate in your community, please contact us. Those interested can
also sign up for e-mail updates on agriculture issues at
We will keep you apprised of any developments in this area.
if you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other
issue, please feel free to contact me at (217) 782-0228, (217)
[News release from
Sen. Larry Bomke]