[BCNnet] Madigan Hearings on the Budget
Donald R. Dann
donniebird at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 11 14:19:06 CST 2005
The coalition PPW, Partners for Parks and Wildlife, of which BCN is a member, strongly opposes Governor Blagojevich’s funding cuts for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. We need as many of our members as possible to testify before a series of public meetings on the budget which Speaker Madigan is holding around the state. Here is a chance to talk to the guy who really runs the General Assembly.
For those who would like to speak it is necessary to RSVP for the particular hearing they plan to attend. A schedule of forthcoming meetings will be posted on the BCN website, www.bcnbirds.org <http://www.bcnbirds.org/> . In our area they will be: 2-19 in Arlington Heights, 2-22 in Dupage County, 2-26 in Park Ridge and 2-28 in McHenry County. A meeting will also take place in Will County but that date hasn’t been announced.
Your comments can be brief. Sometimes 3 sentences can be more effective than using up 3 minutes. Just showing up at these hearings goes a long way. The talking points will also be posted shortly on the website, and they are pasted below. Also, please let Dave Kelm, the PPW coordinator know which hearing you will be attending. Dave can be reached at:
PPW Coordinator 217-836-2082
davekelm at hotmail.com
Please help out. Thanks,
Donald R. Dann
President, on behalf of the Executive Committee
Bird Conservation Network
Email donniebird at yahoo.com
PPW talking points for budget hearings:
I am a member of Partners for Parks and Wildlife, a coalition organized to seek stable state funding for open space and natural areas acquisition, park development and natural resource management. This coalition is comprised of Illinois parks, environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation and sportsmen groups.
We urge the General Assembly and the Administration to consider that Illinois currently ranks 48th out of the 50 states in the amount of public parkland available to residents per capita. In some parts of the state, land prices have risen by double‑digit inflation rates. Now is the right time to include stable and increased open space acquisition priorities in the state budget.
Currently, demand for state funding far exceeds availability of funds. Between 1986 and 2004, Illinois had requests for $366 million in state grant funding for projects involving land acquisition, natural areas management and park development. Only about 54 percent of that total was awarded to local park and conservation agencies because adequate funding is simply not available.
Funding for land acquisition and park development is an investment in Illinois as these programs contribute significantly to the state economy. Approximately $225.5 million has been invested in construction and union labor jobs as a result of park and conservation funding. And an additional $184.5 million has been spent with Illinois businesses on materials for park development.
Leave time here for a local or regional focus
We also urge the General Assembly and the Administration to take a closer look at how the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and natural resource management are funded. Over the course of the last two years, the IDNR has cut more than one hundred positions. Many of these are long‑term, front‑line employees. These professional, dedicated employees have workloads that cannot be transferred to other non‑trained personnel.
Over the next few years, these staff cuts endanger the preservation of wetlands, acquisition of endangered prairie and the appropriate management of wildlife. The cuts directly affect the public's ability to visit state parks. And they negatively affect educational programs in our state's elementary and secondary schools.
Our struggle to reinstate these vital land acquisition and park development programs into last year's budget was acknowledged and supported by nearly every newspaper editorial board in the state of Illinois. They knew, as we do, that our land is precious, and that when it is gone to development, it is gone forever. Please give a priority to stable funding for open space and natural areas acquisition, park development and natural resource management and provide much‑needed increases when the state budget recovers as expected.
We would welcome the opportunity to sit down with Legislative Leaders and staff to discuss ways we can work together to accomplish these goals.
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