The funding of state parks in Illinois is still up for discussion, with user fees very much a possibility. It is an idea that has met with mixed reaction. There are some who fear if the parks get their own dedicated source of revenue, the money that is currently appropriated for them will be swept away, similar to what lawmakers did about 20 years ago with education funding.
At that time, lawmakers passed Riverboat Gambling on the promise that money generated from the boats would go to prop up schools. What some didn't realize until later was that much of the funding that had been in place was taken away and used elsewhere. Alton Regional Convention and Visitor's BUreau President Brett Stawar says that is a possibility that has already been considered.
At a recent meeting, local leaders called on Springfield to come up with ways to fund state parks, including the user fees, as well as new fees on the coal, oil, gas, and aggregate extraction industries that the Department of Natural Resources regulates. Illinois is one of the only states in the nation that currently does not charge an admission fee to its state parks.