Batinick questions price tag of fire chief training bill
Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) questioned the cost of a bill that would increase the amount of training fire chiefs are required to have.
Introduced during the May 30 House floor debate, SB 2619, sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Northlake), amends the Associated Firefighters of Illinois' procedure and code for fire chiefs, who, under Willis' bill, would be required to have 10 years of training to fill the position. Historically, the General Assembly has taken measures to ensure adequate safety training, according to Willis, but she said that her bill takes that one step further by offering the best possible training to fire chiefs.
She said the training would be presented in portions and a minimum of 10 years field experience should be sufficient; however, she didn't note the cost of the program.
But Batinick did.
“This is going to cost a couple of hundred thousand [dollars],” Batinick said.
Batinick said that he believes that those closest to the bill and the "ones on the ground" should be deciding the best way to allocate public safety funds.
“Maybe they want more school resource officers in schools or other things,” Batinick said, adding that although he wished that Illinois had an unlimited pile of money, the reality is that lawmakers are cutting the Local Government Distributive Fund.
“I do not support this bill, and I urge a 'no' vote,” Batinick said.
Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) said her former mayoral post taught her a few things, especially with limited resources and administrative positions.
“I understand the previous speaker's concerns," McCombie said. "However, that being said, I am also fully aware of the differences of a fire and police officer.”
She said it is vital to have a police chief and fire chief who can fully operate the other's position.
“If not, it would do [a] disservice to the people in that community," McCombie said. "So I urge an 'aye' vote in this situation.”
In conclusion, Willis called SB 2319, which passed 87-24, an inestimable common-sense bill.
“It is something I don’t think we can put a price tag on,” Willis said.