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.
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State of the State
On February 6, Governor Pat Quinn delivered his 2013 State of the State Address to the Illinois General Assembly. In his speech, he outlined a bold, progressive vision for Illinois that builds on his accomplishments over the last four years. Governor Quinn detailed his support for increasing the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour and announced that he had signed an Executive Order that morning to create more job opportunities for veterans. In addition to promoting economic growth, Governor Quinn reinforced his commitment to enacting pension reform, stabilizing the state’s budget, implementing the Affordable Care Act, enhancing public safety, maintaining high ethical standards in state government, and passing marriage equality legislation.
Governor Quinn Strengthens Effort to Attract and Expand Illinois Manufacturers
On February 7, as part of his commitment to drive small business growth, Governor Quinn announced new jobs at three small Illinois manufacturers. Expansion of Vosges Haut-Chocolat in Chicago, freight firm Tennant Truck Lines Inc. in Colona and medical device maker Endotronix in Peoria will create 75 new jobs. Under Governor Quinn’s leadership, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is aggressively courting companies. Part of his agenda to market Illinois’ world-class attributes abroad, the governor has been working to make global markets more accessible to Illinois businesses and personally meeting with business leaders to recruit them to Illinois.
Governor Quinn Launches $67 Million Grade Separation Project in Bensenville
On February 19, Governor Pat Quinn was joined by Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider and other state and local officials to break ground on a $67 million grade separation project in Bensenville that is part of the Chicago Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE). Funded through Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, the project to construct a rail flyover over Irving Park Road (IL Rt. 19) just east of York Road will create 870 jobs, and boost long-term economic development by speeding up the flow of freight and vehicles on the southwestern edge of O’Hare Airport.
Governor Quinn Announces Major Education Investment to Expand Job Training in South Suburbs
On February 21, as part of his commitment to create jobs and grow the Illinois economy, Governor Pat Quinn joined community leaders to announce a major state capital investment at South Suburban College (SSC). The $52.5 million project for an allied health addition at SSC will be supported by $41.6 million in funding from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program and will create an estimated 750 jobs. Once complete, the addition will dramatically expand opportunities for students in the south suburbs to pursue professional training essential for good-paying jobs in fast-growing medical fields.
Governor Quinn, Mayor Emanuel and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority Announce the Construction of a 1,200-Room “Headquarters Hotel” Near McCormick Place
Governor Pat Quinn, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, announced the construction of a 1,200 room “headquarters hotel” near McCormick Place to accommodate convention and trade show business visitors. The hotel will facilitate a vibrant, authentic and walkable urban experience. This project will create nearly 2,500 construction jobs and 500 permanent local jobs.
Clean Water Project
On February 11, Governor Pat Quinn awarded a $250 million low-interest loan to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) to move forward with crucial projects to update the region’s water infrastructure, clean up area rivers and improve public health. Financed through the governor’s Illinois Clean Water Initiative (ICWI), the projects will create 2,000 construction-related jobs and support an additional 8,000 jobs in local communities.
Governor Quinn Joins President Obama in support of Bold Economic Growth Agenda
On February 15, Governor Pat Quinn joined President Obama at Hyde Park Academy to discuss the need to strengthen the middle class and prevent gun violence. The president laid out a bold agenda during his State of the Union address to drive job creation and economic growth, close the skills gap, raise the federal minimum wage and strengthen public safety. Governor Quinn laid out many proposals during his State of the State address consistent with the President’s agenda.
Affordable Care Act
On February 13, Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that Illinois has been conditionally approved to operate a State Partnership Marketplace, which will be ready for open enrollment in October 2013. This federal approval of the partnership will allow Illinois to select health insurance carriers and tailor the marketplace to local needs and market conditions. This announcement is part of Governor Quinn's commitment to increase access to decent healthcare and ensure that Illinois residents are able to enjoy the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. For more information on the new health insurance marketplace, visit www.healthcare.gov/exchanges.
On February 16, Governor Pat Quinn encouraged working families across Illinois to learn how they can apply for newly-expanded tax relief, and highlighted no-cost tax preparation services they should take advantage of. The governor continued his drive to get the word out about Illinois’ newly expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) at Truman College, which serves as a tax assistance center organized by the Center for Economic Progress (CEP).Governor Quinn fought for and signed legislation in 2012 that doubles the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) over the next two years, which is expected to save working families an extra $105 million a year. For more information about tax relief and tax preparation assistance, please visit EITC.illinois.gov.
On February 12, Governor Pat Quinn announced that Illinois will be receiving a $12 Million HUD Award that will strengthen Illinois’ efforts to allow people with disabilities to live independently in the community of their choice. This award will create up to 825 apartments that are affordable for people across Illinois who have special needs and are in financial need. This announcement builds on Governor Quinn’s commitment to improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges in Illinois. Under Governor Quinn’s leadership, Illinois has made historic progress to rebalance its housing and care for people with disabilities, moving away from an overreliance on outdated institutions and moving toward a community-based care model.
Governor Quinn Signs Landmark Legislation to Strengthen Communities Across Illinois
On February 8, Governor Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 16, which will strengthen communities across Illinois by responsibly fast tracking the foreclosure process and investing more than $120 million to help more Illinois families keep their homes. This law will help to restore neighborhoods and property values by significantly shortening the foreclosure process to a few months. Governor Quinn also recently announced that following his launch of the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network one year ago, more than a half-million people have been connected to free foreclosure help. You can learn more information about resources that have helped so many other homeowners across Illinois by visiting www.keepyourhomeillinois.org, calling the toll-free hotline (1-855-KEEP-411), or visiting one of eighty counseling agencies throughout the state.
Illinois State Fair Announces Additional Grandstand Concerts, 2013 Theme
A stellar Grandstand entertainment line-up is being assembled for the 2013 Illinois State Fair. On February 8, State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick announced additional concert bookings for the August festival, including performances by The Band Perry, Billy Currington, Gary Allan, Thompson Square, Styx and REO Speedwagon. The 2013 fair will begin Thursday, Aug. 8, and continue through Sunday, Aug. 18. Tickets for the Aug. 14 Toby Keith concert will go on sale Saturday, Feb. 9, beginning at 10 a.m. They can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com, by calling 1-800-745-3000 or by visiting any Ticketmaster outlet. Sales dates for the other shows will be announced soon.
Long Range Transportation Plan Released
Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider announced the completion of the Illinois State Long Range Transportation Plan. The plan provides the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) a framework for goals, objectives and desired performance outcomes to make informed investment decisions that will preserve the state transportation system and ensure safe travel for Illinois residents. To view the long-range plan and a list of action items, please visit http://www.illinoistransportationplan.org.
Illinois Department of Transportation Announces Annual Report
The Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Annual Report for 2012 has been completed. The report is designed to inform readers about what IDOT does, while highlighting accomplishments from the previous year and providing plans for the current year. With the environment in mind, a limited number of copies of the report will be printed, but it will be available to everyone on IDOT’s website. You can click here to view the report: IDOT 2012 Annual Report – Transforming Transportation for Tomorrow.