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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9, 2003

Department of Human Rights tightens belt; commits to enhancing public service

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the proposed fiscal year 2004 budget for the Illinois Department of Human Rights will be $8.7 million, down 6.6 percent from the agency’s FY03 appropriation of $9.3 million.

“This budget fulfills the governor’s commitment to balancing the budget without cutting vital services,” said Rocco J. Claps, the agency’s director. “IDHR is committed to spending less and, at the same time, enhancing services.”

The department will eliminate many positions left vacant by last year’s early retirement incentive and through attrition, but is not cutting investigative positions. “We have prioritized the hiring of agency investigators,” Claps said. “This will bolster the quality and effectiveness for the department’s service to the public and will allow us to make customer service our No. 1 focus.”

Strengthening the department’s investigative division also will mean more federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. More investigators will increase IDHR’s ability to handle a larger volume of work in conjunction with intergovernmental agreements between the state and these federal agencies.

IDHR enforces the Illinois Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in connection with employment opportunities, real estate transactions, access to financial credit and the availability of public accommodations. The department investigates individual and systemic charges of discrimination due to race, color, religion, sex, natural origin, ancestry, citizenship status, age, marital status, arrest record, physical or mental handicap, or unfavorable military discharge. Allegations of retaliation or of sexual harassment are also investigated. In addition the department monitors state agency and public contractor affirmative action and provides training on equal employment opportunity / affirmative action law and administrative rule.

“The Illinois Department of Human Rights is committed to ensuring that those who are discriminated against will be treated in a fair and equitable manner,” Claps said. “I am confident that this agency will fulfill this responsibility regardless of budget constraints.”



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