Metro-East News

Sparta shooting complex, ESL anti-violence program on state cut list

A shooter competes at the World Shooting and Recreation Complex in Sparta.
A shooter competes at the World Shooting and Recreation Complex in Sparta.

The latest fallout to the back-and-forth budget debate in Springfield has Gov. Bruce Rauner suspending operations at the World Shooting and Recreation Complex near Sparta.

State Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Smithton, quickly came out against the moves, calling them “harsh blows to the critical economic drivers in Southern Illinois.”

Rauner’s office on Friday afternoon released a list of “steps to save additional $420 million,” which would cancel funding for legislative earmarks and freeze capital projects that are not related to transportation. It is the second round of steps, the office says, “to responsibly manage the state’s finances.”

Rauner’s office, in a news release, said House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Democrats, “have refused to pass real, compromise reforms that will grow the economy, pay down the debt and end the era of wasteful spending and broken budgets while implementing parliamentary maneuvers to keep the governor from acting on the budget bills.”

The cuts also would suspend Operation CeaseFire in six cities, including East St. Louis. Representatives from that organization were not available on Saturday.

Costello said shutting down the shooting complex “would result in major job losses and a steep decline in tourism and economic activity.”

The Sparta complex was to hold nearly 80 events this year.

The first event that would be affected would be the annual St. Jude’s Shoot on Sept. 5, which benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Through the end of the year, 20 other events would be canceled as well.

In addition to shooting and fishing areas, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources complex has pads for a thousand recreational vehicles and a restaurant.

Other announced steps

The governor announced several “Management Steps” to reduce a $4 billion deficit in the budget approved by legislators. Cuts hit several areas statewide, including a longer potential delay to all vendors for goods and services provided to the state.

▪  Suspend statewide funding to Operation CeaseFire, which has a program in East St. Louis.

▪  Suspend funding to the Tobacco Quitline

▪  Suspend funding for all coal programs at the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

▪  Suspend funding for the Energy Efficiency Program

▪  Reinstate timely re-determinations of Medicaid eligibility

▪  Discontinue special Medicaid payments to some hospitals

▪  Suspend funding to agricultural education fairs, the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

▪  Suspend new forensic equipment purchases for State Police in fiscal year 2016.

▪  Suspend reimbursements for fire department training to local governments

▪  Suspend bullying prevention grants