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Governor's Monthly Newsletter: April 2013 

This electronic newsletter is an opportunity for you to learn more about what we’ve accomplished in Illinois government, and how you can get involved. Whether it’s volunteering in a Serve Illinois volunteer project, receiving state services, or learning about new laws and programs, I want to ensure that you know what’s happening in your government.

If you have ideas for improving any State service, program, or this very newsletter, please click here and let us know.

Sincerely,

Pat Quinn
Governor


Featured Articles

Governor Quinn Declares 44 Counties State Disaster Areas and Requests FEMA Assistance

Governor Pat Quinn declared 44 counties state disaster areas after surveying flood damage in several Illinois communities caused by days of severe storms and heavy rainfall. This disaster declaration will accelerate and expand access to state emergency resources as well as allow the state to formally pursue federal relief and support. On April 22, the governor asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist with damage assessments in several Illinois counties devastated by flooding and severe storms. The assessments, which will begin on April 29, will provide the documentation necessary to support a request for federal assistance.

Counties included in the governor’s declaration include: Adams, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Cook, DeKalb, Douglas, DuPage, Fulton, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, Mercer, Morgan, Ogle, Peoria, Pike, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott, Stark, Tazewell, Whiteside, Will, Winnebago and Woodford.

Flood safety information and real-time updates, can be found at Ready.Illinois.gov and traffic updates at GettingAroundIllinois.com/gai.htm.

On April 23, Governor Quinn announced that Illinois businesses and individuals who file monthly, quarterly or annual returns and have been impacted by the flooding will have until Oct. 31 to file tax returns that were due on or after April 19. The extended deadline will provide much-needed relief for individuals and local businesses trying to file their returns or payments on time while recovering from the flood.

Taxpayers who opt to mail their defer="defer"red returns and payments should write Flood – April 2013 on the outside of the envelope in red ink and on the top of each page of the tax filing, so the account can be updated and handled appropriately. Filers using My Tax Illinois or WebFile will be provided instructions when they file their returns so that no late fees or penalties will be billed to their accounts. For questions, the Illinois Department of Revenue has set up a mailbox dedicated to the flood issue: REV.FloodApr2013@illinois.gov.

Governor Quinn’s Trade Mission to Mexico

Governor Pat Quinn led a trade mission to Mexico April 3 - 6 to spur economic and tourism opportunities between Illinois and Mexico. With Illinois already leading the Midwest in exports, this mission built on the success of Governor Quinn’s agenda to aggressively pursue international trade and create jobs in Illinois. He is Illinois’ first governor to visit Mexico in 13 years, and only the fourth U.S. governor to visit Mexico since 2005.

The three-day mission included meetings with potential trade partners and Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, an Illinois Tourism event and the signing of a Sister Lakes pact. The Mexico trade mission is the latest by Governor Quinn as he seeks to promote Illinois to a global audience. Past missions include China and Japan in 2011, and Canada and Brazil in 2012.

Prior to his trade mission, on April 2, Governor Quinn released an inter-agency report detailing the efforts of his New Americans Initiative to welcome everyone in Illinois. In 2012, the Office of New Americans grew the number of Welcoming Centers from two to five (North Riverside, Melrose Park, Chicago’s Northwest Side, Chicago’s Southwest Side and Aurora), and another will open soon in Chicago’s Southeast Side. Since 2010, the Office of New Americans boosted the number of service providers from 11 to 25 state agencies, and made more information available online and in multiple languages. To aid the growing numbers of immigrants who live outside of the Chicago area, the Governor’s Office used a Welcoming Center “Mobile Unit.”

In the upcoming year, Governor Quinn plans to open a new Illinois Welcoming Center in Chicago’s Southeast Side, and implement a statewide “Language Access Policy” to ensure meaningful access to newcomers with limited English language proficiency. To read the complete report about Governor Quinn’s Office of New Americans or learn about available services, visit immigrants.illinois.gov.

Six-Year, $12.62 Billion Transportation Construction Program

On April 17, Governor Quinn unveiled the six-year, $12.62 billion construction program that will improve roads and bridges throughout Illinois while making major investments in public transportation. The projects are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward, while updating the state's transportation system. The upcoming highway, public transit, rail and airport projects will address critical infrastructure needs while making major transportation improvements throughout the state.

The multi-year transportation program builds upon the success of Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, which is supporting more than 439,000 jobs over six years. It is the largest capital construction program in Illinois history, and is one of the largest capital construction programs in the nation. Prior to its passage by the Illinois General Assembly in 2009, Illinois had gone nearly a decade without a major program to address its critical infrastructure needs.

More information on the construction program may be found at http://www.dot.il.gov/opp/hip1419/hwyimprov.htm.

Grundfos’ New North American Headquarters in Downers Grove

On April 16, as part of his agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward, Governor Pat Quinn was joined by Grundfos officials to break ground on the global water pump manufacturer’s new North American headquarters in Downers Grove, Illinois. Denmark-based Grundfos, the world’s largest water pump producer, will create 40 new jobs at the headquarters over the next several years. The Illinois Clean Water Initiative – which was launched by Governor Quinn in 2012 to overhaul the state’s water infrastructure – was cited by the company as a key reason why they chose Illinois.

Kankakee Clean Water Project to Create 600 Construction Jobs

On April 15, Governor Pat Quinn announced a $21.5 million investment for a major upgrade of the Kankakee River Metropolitan Agency (KRMA) wastewater treatment plant, which will create more than 600 construction jobs in the area. This announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to drive Illinois’ economy forward, and protect the environment by modernizing Illinois’ water infrastructure. Funded by a low-interest loan through Governor Quinn’s $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative (ICWI), the project will help prevent pollutants from entering the Kankakee River and meet the clean water needs of 70,000 people.

Cyber Challenge

On April 1, Governor Pat Quinn was joined by the Cyber Aces Foundation to announce the Illinois Governor’s Cyber Challenge, a statewide competition that will fill mission-critical jobs in the emerging cybersecurity workforce. The Cyber Challenge is designed to provide a pathway of learning and workforce training for Veterans and students.

To ensure Veterans know of this opportunity, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) will use its IllinoisJobLink.com system to contact more than 20,000 Veterans. The site is our state’s help-wanted job board that helps employers identify new hires, and ensures that business owners are aware of available state and federal tax incentives, as well as other programs designed to help grow our economy.

Property Tax Relief Law

On April 23, Governor Pat Quinn signed DB 1894, which will reduce property tax bills for seniors across Illinois. Sponsored by Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) and Representative John Bradley (D-Marion), SB 1894 increases the Senior Homestead Exemption – property tax breaks for Illinois residents age 65 and older – from $4,000 to $5,000. Seniors in the city of Chicago will have the increase applied to their taxable year 2012 taxes, due in 2013. All other counties will benefit from the increase beginning next year.

In addition, this bill raises the general homestead exemption for Cook County starting next year. Originally phased-in over three years, Cook County’s Alternative General Homestead Exemption was designed to limit yearly increases and assessments on residential property. Cook County currently has a seven percent exemption cap, while the rest of the state maintains a flat exemption rate of $6,000. The new law moves Cook County to a flat exemption rate of $7,000 beginning taxable year 2012.

Record $184 Million Year for Illinois Film Industry

On April 12, Governor Pat Quinn visited the Chicago set of the new blockbuster science fiction movie “Divergent” to announce that Illinois’ film industry generated a record $184 million in spending in 2012, resulting in more than 2,200 full-time equivalent jobs. This announcement is part of the governor’s commitment to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward. Governor Quinn signed a 10-year extension of the Illinois Film Tax Credit in 2011, which has paved the way for more productions in Illinois.

Galva National Guard Armory Renovation

On April 4, Governor Pat Quinn announced more than $1.4 million for the renovation of key infrastructure systems at the Galva National Guard Armory in Henry County. This federally-funded project is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs, drive Illinois’ economy forward and maintain the National Guard’s readiness.

Electronic Recycling Grants

On April 13, Governor Pat Quinn celebrated Earth Month by awarding nearly $100,000 in grants to 49 counties across Illinois to build awareness of electronics recycling programs. This announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect our natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

The counties receiving the first grants for electronic waste recycling promotion are: Adams, Alexander, Boone, Carroll, Champaign, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Jackson, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Kane, Knox, Lake, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Madison, Massac, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Mercer, Montgomery, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Rock Island, St. Clair, Tazewell, Union, Vermilion, Warren, Washington, White (shared with Saline and Gallatin), Will, Williamson and Woodford.

EPA Used Tire Program

On April 22, Governor Pat Quinn made an Earth Day announcement today that 19 Illinois Counties were selected for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Used Tire Program. The announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to provide and maintain a healthy environment for the benefit of current and future generations.

The 19 counties include: Carroll, Coles, Cook, Jackson, Jefferson, Jo Daviess, LaSalle, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, McHenry, Montgomery, Morgan, Peoria, Pike, Shelby, St. Clair, Whiteside and Winnebago.

The Illinois EPA's Used Tire Program began in 1990 and is funded by a $2.50 per tire user fee that consumers pay when purchasing tires at retail. The Used Tire Program helps properly dispose of tires at a registered, commercial used tire processing facility in Illinois. Some tires are retreaded and reused, and others are recycled into a variety of products and beneficial uses. Most are shredded into a high-energy fuel supplement known as tire-derived fuel, and are burned in power plants, industrial boilers or cement kilns for energy recovery. Illinois is recognized as a national leader in the management of used and waste tires. For more information, visit epa.state.il.us/land/tires.

Illinois Military Family Relief Fund

On April 14, Governor Pat Quinn marked the 10-year anniversary of the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund (IMFRF) by encouraging everyone in Illinois to take advantage of the voluntary tax check-off that helps military families who are struggling financially during deployment. Though the tax filing deadline has now past, donations to the fund can still be made by visiting OperationHomefront.org. Checks can be made payable to the Illinois Military Family Relief and mailed to: The Illinois Department of Military Affairs, ATTN: IMFRF, 1301 N. MacArthur Boulevard, Springfield, Illinois 62702-2399.

$115 Million Grant for Health Insurance Marketplace

On April 8, Governor Pat Quinn announced that Illinois has been awarded a $115.8 million federal grant under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to fund the development of the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace. This funding is part of Governor Quinn's commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Illinois, and ensure that all people have access to quality health care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) award will be used to help enroll Illinois residents, starting on Oct. 1, in private, federally-subsidized insurance plans offered through the Marketplace.

Governor Quinn Addresses “Going Home” Rally

On April 10, Governor Quinn addressed the “Going Home” rally, hosted by several disability advocacy groups, and emphasized his commitment to improving the lives of people with developmental disabilities and mental challenges in Illinois. As part of his agenda to ensure all people have the opportunity to follow their dreams and reach their full potential, Governor Quinn launched his Rebalancing Initiative in 2011 to increase community care, and reduce the number of outdated, expensive institutions.

In the last several years, the governor has closed two State-Operated Developmental Centers (SODCs), and increased community care options in Illinois, which are proven to provide a higher quality, more independent lifestyle, according to numerous studies. A third institution - the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center - is slated for closure later this year.

IHDA Receives $1M to Create Community-based Supportive Housing

A new $1 million grant from the Weinberg Foundation of Maryland will help the State of Illinois build on efforts to ensure that more low-income people with disabilities can live independently in deeply-affordable, community-based rental housing. Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) will apply the funding and lower rents for people with special needs for up to 10 units in existing developments for up to 30 years. IHDA is reviewing its portfolio of rental properties to determine where the Weinberg Foundation grant will have the most immediate impact. Tenants will be chosen through the State Referral Network.

“National Work Zone Awareness Week” Kick-off

On April 16, in preparation for the 2013 construction season, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois State Police (ISP), the Illinois Tollway and key highway safety partners kicked off National Work Zone Awareness Week, an awareness campaign to get people to slow down and pay close attention to safety while driving in work zones. This is part of an ongoing effort to reduce traffic related fatalities and serious injuries on Illinois roadways.