SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s fiscal year 2004 budget recommendations call for the consolidation of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety (IDNS). Remaining true to his pledge to streamline Illinois government, the governor’s move is expected to net a savings of about $700,000 while preserving services to the public.
“By combining our resources, we can have a more efficient operation and also save some money,” said William C. Burke, IEMA director, who has been working with Gary Wright, former director of IDNS and now assistant director for IEMA’s new nuclear safety division, to ensure a smooth consolidation. “The unique functions of both departments will be retained, and we will be able to realize efficiencies by sharing resources in areas like public information, legal counsel, legislative, personnel, information technology and fiscal operations.”
The combined General Revenue Fund appropriation of $7.5 million for FY04 represents a 42 percent decrease in GRF from FY03’s budget of $12.9 million. The overall budget of the newly combined agency is $234.9 million, which represents a decrease of 12 percent in the agencies’ overall FY03 budgets, which totaled $268.4 million. The reductions reflect program and administrative cuts.
“These reductions will not affect the core mission of this agency, which is public safety,” Burke said. “In fact, the governor has included some new public safety initiatives in the FY04 budget.”
Newly proposed initiatives include the following:
- A new 24-hour, seven-day-a-week Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center to be based in Springfield and operated by Illinois State Police; funding will come from IEMA’s federal Homeland Security appropriation.
- Funding to offset the extraordinary cost incurred by state agencies going to elevated security measures when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security raises the terrorism threat level; the $1 million price tag will be covered by Homeland Security funds.
- The purchase of $37 million worth of personal protective equipment (mask, respirator, and chemical, biological and nuclear filters) for first responders throughout the state; the measure, which was a priority of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, also will be paid for with federal terrorism money.
- Additional funding ($620,000) to help cover state agencies’ extraordinary costs in responding to state-declared disasters; there was no funding for this in FY03.