SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today introduced a fiscal year 2004 budget of $77.5 million for the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Responding to the governor's directive to cut spending, the Department's general funds budget will be $36.2 million, a reduction of $4.6 million in operating costs from fiscal year 2003 that includes a $1 million drop in administrative spending. As part of these cuts, FY04 staffing levels will drop from 1,116 to 1,084. The department also is cutting costs by placing reserves on operating lines, reducing equipment purchases, limiting travel and reducing some grants lines.
Despite the cuts, Blagojevich made it clear that there will be no cuts in programs that veterans rely upon for assistance. “Make no mistake, I will not turn my back on this state’s commitment and our obligation to the people who have risked their lives to defend ours,” the governor said.
More than 1,000 men and women currently receive various kinds of care in the state’s veterans’ homes, which are located in Anna, LaSalle, Manteno and Quincy. All four homes offer long-term skilled nursing care and those in LaSalle, Manteno and Quincy have special units for veterans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The Anna and Quincy facilities also provide care for veterans who can still live independently if provided with limited assistance. The agency remains dedicated to providing a high standard of appropriate care for Illinois veterans.
"The Department is confident that the FY04 reductions will not prevent the agency from fulfilling its mission of providing the highest quality of care and service to the veterans of this state,” said Director Roy L. Dolgos. “We are firmly committed to these men and women who honorably served this country during times of war and other crises."
In addition to maintaining services at the state’s veterans homes, the department's budget includes funding for several grant programs such as the POW/MIA scholarship, educational grants for qualified dependents of veterans who died or became totally disabled during certain conflicts, limited reimbursement for government markers and bonus payments to those involved in certain conflicts.