Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Governor Pritzker's Proposed Budget for Department of Natural Resources

Today Governor Pritzker released his FY20 proposed operating budget for the DNR. You can find it on page 256 of the Proposed Operating Budget. An operating budget is where 'appropriations are for consumable goods and services such as salaries and benefits, commodities, utilities, and professional services that are purchased and used during any one fiscal year.

The Governor’s recommended FY20 budget supports a Conservation Police Officer trainee class of 20 to help with the reduction due to retirement.

The proposed budget fully funds historic sites and preservation operations at last year's levels and maintains operations of all state parks and campgrounds.
The budget also includes funding for capital programs at $20.4 million to protect, acquire, enhance and manage wildlife habitat and to support research and educational programs.

This proposed operating budget also imposes a $24,000 a year increase in salary to the New Director, Colleen Callahan and imposes a $22,100 salary increase to the position of Assistant Director. This increase is due to the General Assembly passing SB 3531 in January which gave Agency Directors a 15% increase in salary.

If this is your first time looking at the DNR budget, it can be overwhelming due to the fact that there are many different programs, departments and funds associated with the agency. We will continue to comb through this proposal.

The Governor also proposed a Capital Budget for the IDNR. A Capital Budget is when 'appropriations are for assets that have a long-term useful life, such as buildings, highways, underground or surface infrastructure, durable equipment and land. Capital appropriations may span multiple fiscal years.' You can find the DNR Capital Appropriations beginning on page 55 of the Governor Proposed FY20 Capital Budget.

Over several years, the DNR has gone without capital appropriations and with that came deterioration of many DNR properties. A fully funded capital budget in FY20 will allow the agency to do the improvements that they have identified. These projects are highlighted on page 56 of this budget.

Some of the most critical maintenance and rehabilitation projects across the state for the Department of Natural Resources include:

As hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts we understand how bad the DNR needs this capital appropriation to just maintain our state parks and make them more enjoyable for all visitors.

As a reminder, this is the Governor's Proposed budget, it has not been enacted or approved. This begins the long negotiations of a budget in Illinois, so continue to check back with Capitol Outdoors throughout this process.

We look forward to seeing how Colleen Callahan manages the DNR. We all know they have been "doing more with less" but there needs to come a time when the shortfalls of the agency are no longer blamed on the budget.

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