The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) said on Monday that it is facing a possible 20-percent cut to the general fund budget, and first responders would be first on the chopping block.
IEMA Director Jonathon Monken said the agency spoke with the Illinois General Assembly about necessary funding for the agency. He said if the proposed income tax increase doesn't pass, the agency will be in a tight position, according to Emergency Management.
"We spend over 80 percent of funds on personnel-related costs," Monken said, Emergency Management reports. "We're running out of other things we can cut."
Monken said the department may need to cut between 10 and 12 positions from the already lean 70 designated emergency management employees. The workforce has 215 positions, but most of the employees are categorized in other departments, such as nuclear safety.
"They're the first folks there when something happens," Monken said, according to Emergency Management. "Whenever we have a disaster, especially when it's widespread like (the 2013 tornadoes) we have all of our regional coordinators and regional staff involved... Even if their own region isn't impacted they go to help backfill."
IEMA has cut 54 percent of general funds and nine percent of staff in recent years. Monken said 60 percent of the agency's funds are used with matching federal funding. A cut to the budget at the state level would mean a drop in matching from the federal government as well.
State Sen. Darin LaHood called the 20 percent estimate a scare tactic, and not a realistic reflection of the budget.
"I think that it's not going to be as drastic as that," LaHood said, Emergency Management reports.