SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign legislation passed Wednesday by the Illinois Senate to create a $2 license-plate fee and other charges to help generate money for Illinois' neglected state parks.
The Senate passed the bill on a 39-11 vote after it failed in the chamber in June. It had already passed the House of Representatives, and Quinn has indicated he backs the idea.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources expects the fee, added to the current $99 cost of a basic annual license plate, to raise $18 million to
$20 million per year to help cut into a $750 million backlog in park maintenance created by years of budget cuts. New fees for off-road recreation on state land and commercial fishing-related fees are expected to push the money raised by the new law to between $30 million and $35 million per year.
The department has seen its budget and staff steadily cut for a decade as the state's financial situation has grown worse. DNR has dwindled from 1,800 employees and a roughly $100 million annual budget in 2002 to about 1,200 people and a $45 million budget today.
Rep. Frank Mautino, the Spring Valley Democrat who sponsored the bill in the House, said the money will help financially restore the DNR.