In a story that illustrates the connection between police department funding and traffic tickets, the state of Illinois is considering taking a portion of county bond fees collected from minor traffic violations and giving it to the state to help fund the state police. They’re also considering raising ticket prices to deal with the budget shortfall.
The Rockford Register Star has the story:
Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to soon sign legislation that could save the jobs of 464 state troopers and keep five state police headquarters from closing, including District 16 in Pecatonica. […]
Senate Bill 3695, which has passed in the House and Senate, would set up a new fund that would send a portion of county bond fees collected from minor traffic violations to state coffers. Rep. Jim Sacia, co-sponsor of the bill, said the total of all such fees collected from across Illinois would total about $22 million.
Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen argues that the legislation would be “raiding” counties and municipalities to make up for the state’s budget problems.
One solution, Christiansen said, would be to increase the traffic fine from $75 to $120, which would reflect the rate of inflation over the past 20 years.
In order to do so, the Illinois Supreme Court would have to approve a change, which has not been done since 1992, Sacia said.
Sacia said increasing the fine would be reasonable — Wisconsin fines violators $186 — and that he is 95 percent sure the change will come within the next calendar year.
Essentially this is a case of two different governments (local and state) fighting over who gets to keep the money that they’re extracting from motorists. With budgets tight everywhere, this is a scenario that is happening more and more often across the country. Unfortunately, motorists are often the easiest target when any branch of government needs more money.