SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich recommended a fiscal year 2004 General Revenue Fund (GRF) appropriation of $796,700 for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), a reduction of about 97 percent from the FY03 GRF authorization of $27.1 million.
The governor recommended most GRF funding for the agency be replaced with revenue from increasing fees on permits issued by the IEPA to businesses and local governments. The fee changes will require approval by the Illinois General Assembly.
IEPA’s overall FY04 budget is $1.32 billion compared to $1.36 billion in FY03. Nearly $1 billion of the money supports the low-interest revolving loan program that assists local governments in upgrading wastewater and drinking water facilities to meet environmental standards protective of the public’s health. Federal grants fund 80 percent of the program’s cost; the remainder comes from state matching funds and repayments of the loans.
The proposed FY04 budget cuts administrative spending by $1.3 million, including reduced expenditures for information technology and other equipment and a reduction in staffing levels. IEPA’s headcount will drop from its FY03 level of 1,312 to 1,288.
The budget recommendation also reflects consolidation of the Illinois Pollution Control Board with the IEPA, which will save approximately $1 million through administrative cost reductions. The board’s policy and decision-making authority will not change as a result of the consolidation.
The IEPA will give priority to its core mission of being the lead agency for administering state and federal laws to enhance the quality of air, land and water resources and to provide a healthy environment for the state’s citizens.
The agency issues permits and inspects facilities, leads cleanups of brownfields and other contaminated sites; proposes environmental standards; initiates enforcement actions; educates
and provides pollution prevention and technical assistance and outreach to industry, agribusiness and the public; and provides technical and financial assistance to local governments.
During FY04, Illinois EPA will continue a number of innovative programs that do not place additional demands on state resources but, instead, utilize public-private partnerships and maximize federal grant opportunities and enforcement penalties. Those programs include assisting educators to create “green schools,” the expansion of E-government through on-line permitting and information access, and outreach to promote clean coal, renewable energy, clean fuels and sustainable practices. IEPA also will continue to enlist citizens and the private sector, through such programs as Partners for Clean Aid, Green Pays on Green Days and the Mercury Reduction Initiative, to reduce a variety of environmental impacts.
In addition, Illinois EPA will carry out Blagojevich’s commitment for the agency to take a more proactive approach to environmental justice considerations.