SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today proposed a fiscal year 2004 budget of $296.7 million for the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), a decrease of $303.1 million (51 percent) from FY03. The reduction reflects the transfer of federally-funded job training programs to the newly named Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).
“By consolidating and aligning Illinois’ job training and economic development programs within one agency, these vital resources will be better positioned to help Illinois fulfill its mission of preparing workers to meet the needs of a changing workplace, and in providing employers with qualified workers,” the governor said. “IDES, through its unemployment insurance and employment service programs, will continue to serve as the portal through which unemployed Illinois workers seek re-employment and training services.”
Virtually all IDES operating expenses are federally funded. Regular unemployment insurance benefits, funded through state employer tax dollars and deposited in the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, are not included in the agency’s budget.
“An important event on the IDES agenda in 2003 will be bringing together leaders in the business community and organized labor for the first time since 1992, to hammer out details of a new unemployment insurance bill,” said IDES director Brenda A. Russell. “Keeping the unemployment insurance trust fund financially sound in an atmosphere of cooperation between business and labor will be a major goal of this administration.”
The weakened national economy and higher state unemployment are reflected in a proposed $6 million appropriation to cover the cost of state interest liabilities, which are projected to accrue due to current trust fund borrowing. The state’s liability as an employer to the unemployment trust fund also is expected to increase significantly, from $8.1 million to $16 million, to fund benefits for state government employees, who are laid off from their jobs.
To provide faster and better service to both businesses and unemployed workers, while improving department efficiency, IDES is bringing unemployment tax filing online for employers, and allowing Internet filing of initial claims by unemployed workers in 2003.
The Internet tax filing application will provide Illinois’ 300,000 employers with a more convenient alternative to paper and other time--consuming filing methods; it will be financed in part by a one-time, $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The online application for filing unemployment insurance claims builds on the department’s automated telephone certification system and, currently, is being pilot-tested in selected areas of the state. The department anticipates online claims filing to become available statewide later this year.
The IDES budget also includes an $8 million request for continued restructuring of the department’s Benefit Information System (BIS), the 27-year-old computer network that processes unemployment insurance claims and issues benefit checks.
IDES administers the state’s unemployment insurance program, operates a public employment service and is the chief provider of labor market information for Illinois. During the previous two fiscal years, the department had assumed additional responsibility for administration of the state’s job training programs funded under the federal Trade Act and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Governor Blagojevich has proposed transferring programs funded under both laws to DCEO in order to further reduce state administrative costs and to more closely align job training services with the state’s economic development initiatives.
IDES services are provided to the public through the Illinois Employment and Training Center (IETC) Network, which has 44 full-service centers and 55 satellite facilities across the state.