Tuesday, December 02, 2008
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Governor explains state park closures: blames legislature

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[December 02, 2008]  CHICAGO -- The following statement from Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich was released Sunday regarding the closings of state parks and historic sites:

Donuts"Earlier this year I was forced to make difficult decisions in order to balance the budget that (the) General Assembly sent to me, which was over $2 billion out of balance. To fix the budget, I made $1.4 billion in reductions, of which the General Assembly chose to restore only $230 million. Unfortunately the poor national economy has caused revenue to come in at a slower rate than projected, so again we are facing a $2 billion budget deficit.

"In this poor budget situation, I am asking for support from state legislators and constitutional officers to help manage the budget. I also ask Illinoisans to understand that closing a few sites and making reductions are decisions that I don't want to make, but decisions that have to be made so that we can balance Illinois' $2 billion budget deficit. In turn, I will continue to take steps to reduce the shortfall so that Illinois has a budget that works."


On Nov. 20, Blagojevich acted on a supplemental appropriations bill (Senate Bill 1103) passed by the General Assembly to restore $175.9 million in funding for several reductions made earlier this year. With the governor's action, funding is available for substance-abuse treatment centers, Department of Children and Family Services front-line staff, the Regional Transit Authority reduced-fare subsidy, and other core services. But due to a $2 billion budget deficit and concerns about some of the funds swept in the fund transfer legislation passed by the General Assembly, seven state parks (out of 325 Department of Natural Resources lands) and 12 historic sites closed Nov. 30.

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In July, the General Assembly passed a budget that was more than $2 billion out of balance, and the governor cut $1.4 billion to manage this budget. In September, the General Assembly passed a bill to transfer funds (Senate Bill 790), as well as the supplemental appropriations bill (Senate Bill 1103) to appropriate $230.9 million in spending. In October, Blagojevich signed Senate Bill 790 but emphasized his concern regarding the state's ability to transfer dollars out of several of the funds selected by the General Assembly.

Due to lagging revenues, it has become apparent that now the state's budget again has a $2 billion budget deficit. With unemployment up, consumer spending down and Wall Street's negative impact on Illinois business, revenues have already fallen $1 billion short of budget levels. As in many other states, economists warn that if the economy continues to worsen, so will Illinois' budget. To manage the budget, the governor has proposed a plan to reduce spending, request federal stimulus aid and use short-term borrowing to get dollars to providers who urgently need payment.

[Text from file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]


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