Hunters, anglers keeping close eye on budget progress as funding dangers near

For awhile last summer, we here at Outdoor News were keeping a running tab on the days Illinois had gone without a state budget. We published that number in each issue of the magazine through the summer … 340 … 354 … 368 and so on and so on.

And so on.

Now into 2017, we’ve been without a state budget for so many days I’ve lost count. I do plan to revive the count in the Jan. 27 issue, assuming my math skills don’t throw a gasket.

Hope existed this week as the 99th General Assembly gathered to take care of “unfinished business.” Alas, that business did not include making progress on a budget.

What’s that mean for we hunters and anglers in Illinois? It means a lot.

The Illinois DNR, which manages our wildlife and public recreation lands, is in a deep financial hole. Things could get more serious in 2017 as matching federal funds are put in danger. In simple terms, the federal government reimburses the DNR for many projects that benefit wildlife. However, that matching money is based on the state’s capital budget. Things have held together so far, and the feds have been rather gracious. But the funding could be shut off at any time.

Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that, and we’ll try to break it down in the Jan. 27 issue. Meanwhile, Illinois state legislators opened a new Illinois General Assembly yesterday (Jan. 11). Democrats remain in firm control of the General Assembly, so it’s not surprising that Michael Madigan was re-elected speaker of the House — again.

Can Gov. Bruce Rauner bring everyone together to get a budget deal done before the June 30 wrap of Fiscal Year 2017?

The countdown is on.

Categories: Illinois – Ralph Loos

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