Plan To Help State Parks Stalls

A plan to raise funding for the agency that oversees state parks and conservation of wildlife failed to pass the Senate Thursday.
The Department of Natural Resources has been expressing a dire need for more funding. It claims state parks are deteriorating, and the agency needs more employees.
So lawmakers tried to come to its aid.
Legislators crafted a proposal that would help fund the agency through a package of 18 fee hikes including a $2 fee on license plates.  Visitors to beaches would pay a fee, and out-of-state visitors to state sites would also have to pay.
It took two tries, but on the final day of the legislative session, the House approved the package.  No such luck in the Senate, where Republicans like Senator John O. Jones of Mount Vernon argued Illinois needs to stop more taxing of its residents.

JONES “How much more do you think that citizens can bear in this state, anyway? It’s time to stop this nonsense, of raising fees on everything that comes along.”

Proponents of the plan say the Department of Natural Resources is in a uniquely vulnerable position after years of budget cuts.
It’s unclear what the measure’s failure will mean for state parks.

-Rachel Otwell

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