Illinois: Assets For Sale, Dedicated Funds Swept Clean?
The Illinois House of Representatives returns to Springfield this week to debate the funding of capital projects...our state has not had a capital improvement budget for infrastructure improvements for six years and we are dangerously close to losing billions in matching federal funds for infrastructure. After the Governor's recent veto of funding for many agricultural programs as well as human service programs and shutting down state parks, the legislature appears ready to do something. But, that something is selling the state lottery, one of Illinois' most valuable assets. Each year revenues from the lottery pump an average of $650 million into the education fund. The legislature is looking to sell the lottery to a private investor for $7-10 billion. They intend to set aside $3-4 billion in investments to fund education in the future and spend the rest on capital projects. Illinois would be the first state to sell its lottery. If the investments set aside for education do not provide the type of income anticipated, the state's general revenue fund would be required to pick up the slack for the annual $650 million payment for education.
The legislature is also going to debate sweeping more special funds to pay for state subsidized health care programs. Many funds are impacted and agriculture is not immune. The proposed list of funds to be swept include $500,000 from the IL Dept of Ag's Pesticide Control Fund, $250,000 from the Fertilizer Control Fund and $1 million from the Weights & Measures Control fund. The money in these funds is generated by industry fees and is generally used to administer the pesticide, fertilizer and scale inspection and regulatory programs. IFCA has long opposed these fund sweeps. The mood in the legislature, however, is one of weariness of fighting and public outcry over lack of construction projects and closure of public state parks could lead to approval of these actions. You should contact your local State Representative and Senator ask them to oppose SB 790, the fund sweep legislation.