Thursday, February 10, 2005

DNR cuts

The Trib has an article talking about DNR cuts on the front page.

RB's position is that the budget needs to be cut. There's some truth to this.

The article quotes one Dem from the legislature.
Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) warned that whatever savings the state reaps from cutting staff could be eaten up by the potential legal costs if park visitors get hurt because facilities are stripped of staff.

"If someone, God forbid, is raped or murdered at a facility, and we don't have adequate security, we have high liability," Franks said.

This argument seems weak. Is the government normally liable for crimes committed at parks?

And this is the GOP accusation:
Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers are complaining that the recent cuts have more to do with politics, saying the layoffs are just a way to get rid of people hired during three decades of Republican administrations to clear the way for Democrats.

This critique sounds about half right. Blagojevich is probably letting go some Republican hacks and hiring some of his hacks.

But it's not something we need to speculate about. The Trib ought to be able to find out the background of people hired and fired. To what extent are these moves driven by politics? Are Blagojevich campaign workers getting the axe along with everybody else?

AFSCME did have some hard-hitting criticism:
Leaders of the union that represents the department's workers are furious for other reasons. They contend that the layoffs violate contracts because the state didn't supply a valid reason for getting rid of the employees. In one case, 15 workers paid through the state's Wildlife and Fish Fund were told there wasn't enough money to pay them, even though the fund has a $23 million balance. The department says the money wasn't available because the legislature hadn't approved its expenditure.

The salaries of two laid off workers were drawn entirely from a federal grant program for abandoned mines, meaning Washington--not Springfield--was paying for their positions.


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