Katie Vallen, 312-588-4102 email@example.com
Ryan Keith, 217-737-7369 firstname.lastname@example.org
CHICAGO – The Illinois Policy Institute’s latest “Spotlight on Spending” paper raises many questions about the Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education (ENTICE) program, a program run by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources aimed at providing environmental education for teachers. The Institute considers this program a poster child for a serious second look and possible overhaul, as its popularity is dwindling, its funding now and going forward is unclear and its mission during an economic downturn is questionable.
The ENTICE program is supported by taxpayer subsidies as well as user fees ranging from $10 to $25 per person. From 2005 to 2010, the number of teachers completing ENTICE training dropped 83 percent, although funding for the program increased by 5 percent in the same time frame.
Future funding for the ENTICE program is uncertain since the governor’s proposed budget did not allocate any funds for it, although it is continuing into fiscal year 2011. Regardless, the Institute recommends that a re-evaluation of this program, and others, should take place to ensure that the state is only funding necessary and efficient programs. For ENTICE, an overhaul of the program should take place to ensure that it is solely funded by user fees and not with tax dollars. And, the state should seriously examine ending the program altogether as it focuses on providing only the most vital programs and services.
“As Illinois continues to struggle fiscally it is important for the state to look at all state funded programs and evaluate their effectiveness and efficiency. ENTICE is a good example of a program that should be re-evaluated—the number of teachers using the program has significantly dropped over time and its use of tax dollars has increased,” said Amanda Griffin-Johnson, a Public Policy Analyst for the Illinois Policy Institute. “We applaud Governor Quinn’s decision to zero-out this program for fiscal year 2011 as the state continues to look for ways to balance the budget and cut spending. We hope that this same process of program re-evaluation continues into the future.”