Over the last month, Oak Park’s local tourism bureau, Visit Oak Park, has had to make drastic cuts, eliminating two-thirds of its administrative staff and one of the full-time employees at its storefront Visitors Center.

The cuts in Oak Park constitute half of Visit Oak Park’s staff, which already had been trimmed earlier this year when the organization chose not to fill a vacant finance position.

The latest news comes on the heels of an announcement by Choose Chicago — the city’s tourism and marketing organization — in October that it had cut 28 staff positions and closed offices in Mexico and Canada.

The staffing cuts are a result of Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois Assembly’s inability to move forward with a state budget. The funds from the state’s hotel-motel tax have been collected and are waiting to be sent to the relevant tourism organizations throughout the state.

Choose Chicago estimates that the stalled funds could suck $750 million from tourism spending, $90 million in hotel revenue and $15 million in tax revenue.

Whatever the amount, it’s clear that the impact will be felt in the city as well as Oak Park, which brings in tourists from across the globe.

It’s time for Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan to come to the table and figure out a plan so tourism workers throughout the state can get back to promoting Illinois, and Oak Park-River Forest in particular, as a great place to visit.

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