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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2004

Governor’s budget plan includes administrative merger of Human Rights Commission into Department of Human Rights
Merger will increase efficiency and accessibility to services

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2005 for the Illinois Department of Human Rights (DHR) that will increase efficiency and improve service delivery. The proposed FY 2005 of $10.8 million includes $2.4 million in federal funds and $8.4 million from the General Revenue Fund. The budget reflects the Governor's commitment to streamlining government while investing in human rights services.

Under the proposed budget for FY 2005, the administrative functions of the Human Rights Commission will be consolidated into the Department of Human Rights enabling the department to function more efficiently and reduce confusion among those accessing the department's services.

"I see this as a great opportunity to provide a one-stop shop for those involved in discrimination complaints," said the agency's director, Rocco J. Claps. "Through this proposed consolidation, the ability for one to file a charge of discrimination and follow it through to adjudication will be a more seamless process."

The overall budget proposal for the Human Rights Department reflects the Governor's priority and commitment for a more efficient government that is responsive and accountable to the public's needs and concerns.

In FY 04 the agency began an aggressive awareness campaign to aid the public in understanding their rights and how to access DHR services. The guiding philosophy is that the more people know about the Human Rights Act and the function of the department, the more effective the department will become in meeting the goal of its core mission-to protect individuals from unlawful discrimination.

Under the proposed budget and consolidation, the Human Rights Department will be positioned to:

  • Ensure that all Illinoisans are aware of and able to exercise their fair housing rights through the newly created Fair Housing Division and pending contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD);
  • Increase mediation settlements;
  • Reduce the processing time of the Human Rights Commission;
  • Enhance the state's contract monitoring system;
  • Increase the number of law enforcement and prosecutors trained on hate crime prevention by 50 percent;
  • Develop an interactive website for both the department and Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes that serves as a repository of information and resources;
  • Create a more balanced and productive work environment for Illinois workers through targeted education and outreach programs and establishing a network of community liaisons; and
  • Be a visible advocate for positive changes to the Human Rights Act including the support of the addition of sexual orientation and source of income (in housing cases) as a basis for discrimination.

"Discrimination can have a devastating effect on a person's life," Claps said. "I am confident that this agency can and will meet its obligation and commitment to the people of Illinois. This year's budget will allow us to continue providing quality service to the public within a cost-efficient and conscientious framework."



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