State museums, Sparta shooting fields will close despite pause in layoffs
By Mark Fitton
Illinois News Network
SPRINGFIELD — A pause in state layoffs won’t stop the planned closures of the state’s museum system nor its shooting facilities near Sparta, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has announced.
The state museum in Springfield, four related facilities around the state and the World Shooting and Recreational Complex at Sparta in Southern Illinois are under the control of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which reports to the governor.
The department on Friday said the the museum system and the shooting facilities at Sparta will close on Wednesday as previously announced.
Earlier in the week, Rauner’s office had announced it would indefinitely suspend plans for layoffs of unionized state employees, including 107 in the Department of Natural Resources, while those layoffs are being disputed in court.
“While employees will return to work, the facilities will remain closed to the public during the suspension,” the IDNR announced in a news release posted on one of its Web pages.
The closure at Sparta is limited to the shooting areas.
“Closure at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex is limited to shooting sports events,” the DNR statement said. “The main event center, restaurant, Amateur Trapshooting Association Hall of Fame and access to boat ramps for fishing will remain open.”
The governor’s office and DNR has cited the lack of a balanced budget.
Critics question the immediate necessity for the closures given that employees will be reporting to work for now.
The Republican governor and legislative Democrats have been unable to come to an agreement for a budget for fiscal year 2016, which began July 1. Few signs of progress have emerged, and both the House and Senate have completed their scheduled sessions for September.