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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On January 25, Governor Pat Quinn celebrated the one-year anniversary of his successful push for major tax relief for working families across Illinois. 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. The same legislation also benefits all taxpayers by improving the value of the personal exemption by indexing it to inflation. The EITC is uniquely pro-growth and pro-family. Available only to workers who are earning income, this tax credit provides incentive to work as well as much-needed tax relief to the lowest-income families. The EITC also generates local economic growth by increasing consumer spending. A 2006 Brookings Institution study found that every dollar a family saves through this tax credit translates into $1.58 of activity in local economies and can help businesses avoid layoffs, hire employees and pave the way for future growth. For more information about how much money taxpayers could save, visit EITC.Illinois.gov.
On January 22, the Governor convened top experts from across the state for a School Safety Summit to develop short and long-term actions to further safeguard schools in Illinois. The summit consisted of a group of more than 50 representatives from the fields of education, public safety, mental health and law enforcement. The summit was convened in light of the tragedy at Newtown, CT in order to brainstorm ideas to increase safety in Illinois schools and ensure that the children in Illinois are protected. During the meeting at the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield, participants discussed crisis prevention, school and community planning and coordination and facility protection and security. Additional meetings of the full group or smaller working groups will be scheduled to address specific problems and develop solutions.
On January 24, Governor Quinn signed Erin’s Law, which requires schools to implement an age-appropriate sexual assault and abuse awareness and prevention curriculum for grades pre-K through 12. This law is designed to help give victims a voice and prevent future incidents of child sexual assault and abuse. Sponsored by Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-Rock Falls) and Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago), this bill was an initiative of Schaumburg, Illinois native Erin Merryn. A victim of sexual assault and abuse as a child, Merryn quit her job three years ago to dedicate her life to helping victims break their silence, educating children about sexual assault and abuse, and preventing them from becoming future victims. She is an author and activist currently working to get Erin’s Law passed in all 50 states. Five states have implemented earlier versions of Erin’s Law. Illinois is the first state to take the next step and pass legislation that more comprehensively addresses the need for child sexual assault and abuse education in schools statewide.
On January 27, Governor Pat Quinn was joined by legislators, community leaders and public safety advocates to sign into law a bill that will help ensure every Illinois motorist is properly licensed to drive. An estimated 250,000 immigrant motorists are on Illinois roads today, and these unlicensed drivers present a serious, but preventable safety risk to all Illinois drivers. Governor Quinn was an early supporter of this key legislation, which is part of his agenda to improve traffic safety in Illinois and lead the nation in welcoming and including our immigrant population. Senate Bill 957, sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago), allows the Secretary of State to issue temporary driver’s licenses to applicants who have resided in Illinois for more than a year but who are not eligible for a social security number. In order to receive a temporary license, an applicant must pass a driving safety test and carry auto insurance. The driver’s license cannot be used as official identification and can be revoked if a license-holder is found not carrying insurance. Studies have shown immigrants who can drive legally are more likely to work, spend and contribute to the economy. Having a driver’s license provides greater access to job opportunities and drives business activity and growth. This legislation passed the General Assembly with strong bipartisan majorities and the support of minority leadership in both chambers.
Pizzas 4 Patriots
On January 29, Governor Pat Quinn teamed up with leaders from DHL and Pizzas 4 Patriots to send 21,000 Chicago-style deep dish pizzas to servicemembers just in time for Super Bowl Sunday. Once in the Middle East, the shipment will be distributed to Camp Bastion, Bagram Airbase and Kandahar – all in Afghanistan – as well as Camp Arifjan in Kuwait and various Forward Operating Bases in both countries. DHL Express will provide door-to-door, final delivery for the distribution, working closely with the U.S. military to ensure the pizzas are delivered fresh and ready at the various military bases. Super Bowl Sunday is traditionally America’s biggest day of the year for eating pizza. Since our troops serving overseas are unable to enjoy the game at home, the not-for-profit organization Pizzas 4 Patriots works to make sure a slice of home comes to them. Since 2008, Pizzas 4 Patriots has worked with DHL Express to send more than 122,000 pizzas in support of U.S. military personnel overseas. For more information please visit: www.Pizzas4Patriots.com.
Summit Entertainment’s “Divergent” Set to Film in Illinois
On January 14, Governor Pat Quinn announced that Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment’s Divergent, the filmed adaptation of the novel by Chicagoan Veronica Roth, will begin filming in Illinois this April. The movie production is expected to bring 1,000 jobs and more than $ 30 million is spending to Illinois. Directed by Neil Burger and starring Shailene Woodley, Divergent is a thrilling adventure set in a future world where people are divided into distinct factions based on their personalities. This is the first major Hollywood film for Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, the soundstage Governor Pat Quinn worked to attract to Illinois. Cinespace, which opened in May 2011, was constructed with $ 5 million from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program and tens of millions of dollars of in private investment from Toronto based studio owner Nick Mirkopoulos. Illinois offers a 30 percent tax credit to filmmakers for money spent on Illinois goods and services, including wages paid to Illinois residents. Since being enacted in 2004, the Film Tax Credit has helped generate more than $ 1 billion in revenue for the state and created more than 10,000 jobs. To learn more about the state’s efforts to promote filmmaking, please visit http://www.illinoisfilm.biz.
On January 16, Governor Quinn participated in a conference call with the White House, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and governors from across the nation regarding President Barack Obama’s public safety plan. At the conclusion of the call, Governor Quinn issued a statement of support for the President’s proposals to reduce gun violence. This declaration of support is in conjunction with Governor Quinn’s advocacy for banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines in Illinois. Though gun violence cannot be completely eliminated, implementation of these common sense measures will save lives and help prevent violent massacres.
On January 14, Governor Pat Quinn was joined by Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck to encourage the public to obtain a vaccination shot, the best protection against the seasonal flu. With Illinois being one of 24 states now reporting higher than normal flu activity this season, it is also important that residents of the state make sure to wash their hands and cover their mouths when coughing to protect themselves and those around them. The vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older, and flu season normally runs through March. While the estimated effectiveness of the vaccine is 62 percent, if you have been vaccinated, but still get the flu, the vaccine can reduce the amount of time you get sick and the severity of symptoms. For those still needing to obtain a flu shot, you can visit www.idph.state.il.us and enter your zip code in the Flu Vaccine Finder. Additionally, for more information about the flu shot, please visit www.idph.state.il.us/flu/, www.flu.gov, or www.walgreens.com/flu.
Capital Investments in Public Museums
Supported by the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, Governor Pat Quinn announced on January 10 that public museums across Illinois will receive $ 15 million in state capital investments to improve facilities and develop new exhibits while creating more than 370 jobs. The projects are part of the Illinois Museum Capital Grants Program, which is managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Grant recipients represent a wide range of cultural interests from across Illinois. This announcement marks the second time that Governor Quinn has made a significant investment in public museums across Illinois. In 2010, nearly $ 15 million in capital dollars funded exhibit expansion and improvements at more than 50 museums. Governor Quinn’s $ 31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program, which began in 2009 and is the largest in Illinois history, is expected to support an estimated 439,000 construction jobs over six years. For more information about the Illinois Museum Capital Grants Program, please visit www.museum.state.il.us/programs/musgrants/.
Nominations for Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards
Governor Pat Quinn and the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service are accepting nominations for the 4th Annual Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards. These awards recognize individual volunteers through a statewide award program to highlight the importance of volunteerism and community service in the State of Illinois. For the first time, businesses that support service will be recognized. Nominations are due to Serve Illinois by February 15, 2013. Please visit www.serve.illinois.gov to obtain nomination forms and more information. Recipients will be selected and notified by March 30, 2013. The Serve Illinois Commission will host a luncheon to honor recipients on April 18, 2013 at the Executive Mansion in Springfield.
State Employment Webinar for Persons with Disabilities
The Department of Central Management Services’ Disabled Hiring Initiative Committee (DHIC) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) are hosting a webinar on State employment for persons with disabilities on February 27, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. CST. This webinar will provide information for persons with disabilities seeking employment with the State of Illinois. Presentations will be made by the Illinois Department of Employment Security regarding the Illinois Job Link program, Central Management Services regarding the Successful Disability Opportunities (SD) Program, and the Department of Human Services Division of Rehabilitation Services regarding client services. The DHIC is partnering with public libraries, Centers for Independent Living, State Universities, and Veterans organizations to provide persons with disabilities a venue for participating in the webinar. Accessing the webinar will require an Internet connection via a computer, laptop, etc. If you or your organization is interested in participating, please send an e-mail to Susan.Allen@illinois.gov and you will be contacted with a list of requirements for participating in the webinar, login instructions, and promotional materials.
IDOT Receives Green Government Honor
In recognition of the department’s achievements in the fields of education and outreach, transportation and efficiency and conservation, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has received a Green Government Award from the Illinois Green Government Coordinating Council. Chaired by Governor Quinn, the Illinois Green Government Coordinating Council was created to improve sustainability practices and policies. The award was presented to IDOT on the basis of three sustainable efforts: the Annual Rain Barrel design contest; a study that was completed with the University of Illinois to test the feasibility of energy crop production in IDOT right-of-ways; and the development of a Hot Mix Asphalt composed of recycled rock and gravel. IDOT will continue its efforts in the future to promote sustainability.