Soil and Water Budget Cut, New State Department, Wildlife Habitat Grants and More

Severe budget cut imposed on Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts

Although Illinois, in the heart of the Corn Belt, is one of the granary locations of the world, the ability to grow crops in the high-rainfall climate of the eastern Midwest is dependent on local infrastructure. 

Maintaining the engineered drainage of local Illinois farmland is a matter of urgent importance for crops to grow and thrive.  However, in the partisan budget passed shortly after Memorial Day for FY25 (the fiscal year that will begin on July 1), State funding for aid to local drainage districts  was cut by almost one-half.  After these cuts, only $4.5 million remained in State aid for SWCDs in FY25.  Much of Illinois’ drainage engineering was already nearing the end of its useful life.  The absence of these State SWCD funds will speed up the deterioration of much of this vital infrastructure, and could lead to sharp reductions to future Illinois crop production and crop-related jobs. 

Uptick in Illinois unemployment during May; House Republicans fight back

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) stated that joblessness rose in May 2024 from the previous month, up 0.1% from 4.8% to 4.9%.  The rise in unemployment included net Illinois job losses in Manufacturing (down 2,300 jobs) and in Leisure/Hospitality (down 1,200 jobs).  Illinois’ May 2024 jobless rate was 90 basis points higher than the nationwide unemployment rate of 4.0% for the same month.

Other sectors of Illinois employment showed net job creation in May 2024, with a net new paycheck increase of 7,100 in Professional and Business Services, and 3,300 net new jobs created in Government

To fight back against persistent job losses, House Republicans have formed the Reigniting Illinois’ Strong Economy (RISE) working group.  RISE introduced a package of job-friendly legislation in the General Assembly this spring.  Our latest RISE podcast describes the issues facing job creation in Illinois.

New law creates new Springfield-based Illinois Department of Early Childhood (IDEC)

The law creating the new Department, which will transition into existence over the next two State fiscal years, was signed on Tuesday, June 25.  The new Department will administer programs that are currently housed at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). 

Under the new law, the often-troubled DCFS will be required to give up its supervision of day care centers, day care homes, and group day care homes to the new Department.  This could alleviate some of the burden DCFS currently faces.  Additionally, the newly-created Department is slated to supervise early childhood education programs and care programs for at-risk children and families,

Wildlife habitat grants available

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is accepting grant applications for the State Pheasant Fund Special Funds Grant Program and for the Illinois Habitat Fund Special Funds Grant Program through August 1.

Learn more:

Celebrate Independence!

Happy 4th of July next Thursday! Enjoy and celebrate our great country, and don’t forget to make a plan to keep your pets safe during Independence Day festivities.