The Illinois Legislative Research Unit of the General Assembly discovered in September that the State of Illinois has been sweeping funds from three firearms related programs. The request came from Republican Representative Keith Wheeler of Oswego. According to an analysis by Ed Sullivan of the Illinois Rifle Association of the data released by the State Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, which is chaired in the House by local Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer and in the Senate by Democrat Heather Steans, nearly $13.2 million dollars has been transferred from the accounts that are used to administer the FOID Program, background checks for firearm-related services, and the Illinois conceal carry law.
According to fee schedules, the Illinois State Police receives a $1 from every FOID Card fee and $150 for the conceal carry license. The fee was placed at a significantly higher level at the time because former Governor Pat Quinn was being accused of starving the FOID Card system, and the fee was an effort to make the process more sustainable.
The Illinois State Rifle Association has accused the Illinois State Police of hampering citizens Constitutional Rights and fixing current issues with the FOID and Conceal Carry License programs due to the fund sweeps. ISRA has accused anti-gun lobbyists of wanting to raise the FOID application fee due to the program being under-funded. ISRA says the fund sweeps prove that it is not being under-funded but mismanaged. WICS Newchannel 20 reported yesterday that law enforcement officials are even having trouble collecting revoked FOID Cards in the state due to manpower and logistics. The fund sweeps have also effected the State Crime Laboratory, as $150,000 from Illinois Conceal Carry Licenses were swept from them in 2017 according to the report. The crime lab processes ballistics, forensics, rape kits, and evidence in cases investigated by the state’s police agencies.
By Illinois law, the fund sweeps must be returned in some capacity if that fund has “insufficient cash” to support appropriated spending. The Illinois State Police did not declare the insufficient cash to maintain the Firearm Services Fund or the State Police Services Fund otherwise the fund sweeps would have been paid back.