FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 17, 2015
Springfield, IL, August 17, 2015— Soil and Water Conservation District employees across the state will be without funding for our health insurance and will lose their coverage, thus significantly impacting the employee workforce since they are currently working without a FY16 budget.
SWCDs, authorized in 1937 under the Illinois Soil and Water Conservation District Act (70 ILCS 405), receive operational and cost-share funds through the Partners for Conservation Program from the State of Illinois through the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Our SWCDs depend on operational funds to pay salaries, as well as health insurance, of our employees. No part of the operational or cost-share funds go to pay for offices or building overhead, as these are provided by our federal partners, the United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) through a Memorandum of Understanding. Since our operational funding has been suspended, these funds are not available to meet our upcoming September 30th insurance payment obligation to Central Management Services (CMS) and we will lose the insurance coverage provided to employees statewide.
SWCDs understand the significant fiscal crisis that the State is facing. SWCDs feel that they have truly done their part to learn to do more with less while continuing to provide services with limited funding. Additionally, all 97 SWCDs have developed long range plans over the course of the past fiscal year to evaluate and establish the best path forward to ensure the continued successful implementation of our conservation mission statewide. A measure of this continued success is that even in the face significant funding constraints, and with a limited investment of state funds, SWCDs continue to serve as a local delivery system interacting over half a billion dollars of local, state and federal funds significantly benefiting our state economy.
To that end, with all the funding decreases, the lack of FY16 budget and pending loss of employee health insurance, the existence of SWCDs is being threatened.
Please support the 97 Soil and Water Conservation Districts by encouraging state legislators to work together to pass a FY16 budget with a line for SWCDs.