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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Governor Quinn Suspends Pay to Illinois Representatives and Senators
On July 10th, Governor Pat Quinn issued a line-item veto of House Bill 214 to suspend pay for Illinois state legislators. Since taking office, the governor has been pushing for comprehensive pension reform to resolve the state's worst-in-the-nation pension crisis. This action follows years of legislative inertia on pension reform, while the state’s unfunded pension debt grows by millions of dollars a day. Members of the Illinois General Assembly make $67,836 annually, along with additional stipends for leadership positions, both of which were vetoed out. In addition, Governor Quinn will not accept his salary until the General Assembly sends him a comprehensive pension reform solution.
"This is an emergency, the taxpayers of Illinois are waiting and there is no excuse for further legislative delay,” Governor Quinn added. “The taxpayers cannot afford an endless cycle of delays, excuses and more delays.”
Governor Quinn Launches $475 Million Circle Interchange Construction Project
On July 17th, Governor Pat Quinn launched construction on the four-year, $475 million Circle Interchange construction project in Chicago, which will create thousands of construction jobs and improve the nation’s most congested interchange. The project will start with work on the Morgan Street Bridge and encompass the bridges, roadways and drainage systems for the Dan Ryan, Eisenhower, and Kennedy Expressways and the Congress Parkway that make up the interchange. According to estimates by transportation planners, the improvements will reduce traffic delays by at least 50 percent, save drivers five million hours annually and the improved traffic flow will lead to a savings of 1.6 million gallons of fuel per year. For more information about the project, visit www.circleinterchange.org.
At the ceremony, Governor Quinn also signed House Bill 2869, which authorizes the third phase of the state’s record Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. The bill allows the state to spend the proceeds from recent and upcoming bond sales to finance $2.7 billion in additional infrastructure improvements.
Governor Quinn Announces Final Preparations to Connect Illinois and Missouri on Mississippi River Bridge
On July 15th, Governor Pat Quinn was joined by Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider and other officials at the construction site of the newly-named Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge to get a progress report as preparations are made to place the final girder beam that will connect Illinois and Missouri. The project has created or supported more than 3,400 jobs. The new bridge will provide congestion relief, improve safety and spur economic development across the region. Construction began in 2009 and is expected to be complete by early 2014.
Governor Quinn and Navistar Unveil New, State-of-the-Art Campus in Melrose Park, Supporting 3,600 Jobs and Spurring $205 Million in Private Investment
Governor Pat Quinn joined Navistar International Corporation for the grand opening of its new Test and Development Center in Melrose Park on July 15th. The international truck and diesel engine manufacturer renovated its existing Melrose Park facility into a state-of-the-art center, creating an additional 200 construction jobs in Illinois.
The financing for the Lisle campus and Joliet facility was made possible by a partnership of the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) and the counties of DuPage, DeKalb, Douglas, Henry, Kankakee, Lake and Winnebago, as well as the cities of Aurora, Elgin, Rockford, Naperville and Joliet. These governments each provided their federal, tax-exempt Recovery Zone Facility Bond allocation to the IFA, which then combined the resources to support the Navistar package. The IFA’s $135 million, low-cost financing package, along with Cook County’s $90 million finance package, supported the project.
Governor Quinn Breaks Ground on $10.6 Million Widening Project for I-57 near Marion, while $69 Million in Additional Projects are Underway in Marion Area
Governor Pat Quinn, state and local officials broke ground on a $10.6 million I-57 widening project near Marion on July 15th. The improvements between Marion and Johnston City will include adding a third traffic lane, replacing and widening the I-57 bridges over Lake Creek Branch and other associated work. The Illinois Department of Transportation will manage the project, which should be complete by December 2014. The I-57 work represents one of many state and local construction projects ongoing in the Williamson County area; other projects in the area total more than $69 million.
Governor Quinn Announces Decatur Clean Water Projects to Create 160 Jobs
On July 15th, Governor Pat Quinn announced $13 million in low-interest loans to update the Decatur sewer system and wastewater treatment plant. Funded through Governor Quinn’s $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative (CWI), the projects will help meet the clean water needs of nearly 90,000 area residents and create 160 direct and indirect jobs. The $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative is funded with annual federal grants, funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and additional principal and interest from loan repayments. To learn more about Governor Quinn’s Illinois Clean Water Initiative, visit CleanWater.Illinois.gov.
Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Support Minority- and Female-Owned Businesses
Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law on July 17th that will help minority- and female-owned businesses more fairly compete for state-funded construction and business contracts. Senate Bill 2320 allows businesses that are owned by females who are also minorities to be certified as both “female owned businesses” and “minority owned businesses.” This legislation will directly increase the pool of vendors in both categories and increase the chance these firms have of participating in state contracts.
Governor Quinn’s Small Business Initiative Puts People to Work Across Illinois
Governor Pat Quinn announced on July 11th that the federally-funded Advantage Illinois program launched less than two years ago has helped scores of companies create nearly 2,000 jobs by providing Illinois entrepreneurs with the access to capital necessary to expand their businesses. Since Advantage Illinois debuted in October 2011, the state has committed $45 million in federal funds to leverage more than $336 million in private investment for 131 projects, creating 1,956 jobs in Illinois. Advantage Illinois is comprised of programs to encourage institutional lending and leverage private venture capital in start-ups. The program is administered through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). For more information on why Illinois is the right place for business, please visit http://illinoisbiz.biz.
Governor Quinn Signs Employment First Act to Expand Opportunities for People with Disabilities
On July 16th, Governor Pat Quinn signed the “Employment First Act,” a new law which requires Illinois state agencies to work together to make employment for people with disabilities a priority. House Bill 2591 requires all state agencies to work together to make competitive employment for people with disabilities a priority and establish measurable goals and objectives for the state. The law requires the Employment and Economic Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities Task Force (EEOPWD) to monitor progress towards this mission. This Task Force includes advocates, individuals with disabilities, business community members, disability services providers, representatives of state agencies and other stakeholders. All state agencies will be required to share data and information and ensure all policies, procedures and practices are aligned to these goals and objectives.
On Fourth of July Governor Quinn Signs New Laws Helping Service Members Find Employment
Governor Pat Quinn celebrated the Fourth of July by signing a package of bills helping members of the United States Armed Forces, Reserves and Illinois National Guard find employment as police officers, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and commercial vehicle drivers. The new laws will utilize the experience, teamwork and discipline service members gain on the front lines to help serve the public on the home front. House Bill 2563 allows service members who have at least two years experience operating a military motor vehicle to bypass the state skills test in applying for a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). House Bill 3186 recognizes members of the armed forces, Reserves and Illinois National Guard’s military training and clinical experience when applying to be an EMT. The bill also waives the application fee for all Illinois State Troopers or members of the Illinois National Guard who volunteer as an EMT in a municipality with a population of 5,000 or fewer. Senate Bill 204 makes college degree requirement exemptions for certain members of the U.S. Armed Forces and the Illinois National Guard looking to become Illinois State Police officers. The new law will expand the current list of medals required to qualify for exemption, helping more servicemembers find employment. All three laws are effective January 1.
Governor Quinn Announces Record-Breaking Statewide Tourism Numbers: Domestic Visitors to Illinois Rise 6 Percent to 99 Million, Generating $31 Billion for State’s Economy
Governor Pat Quinn announced on July 8th that Illinois hosted more than 99 million domestic visitors in 2012, a 6.1 percent increase over the record 93.3 million U.S. residents who visited Illinois in 2011. This marks the second year in a row that Illinois’ visitor numbers broke records and outpaced the national average of 5.4 percent, highlighting the industry’s vital contributions to Illinois’ economic growth, job creation and tax revenue. Destination information, trip inspiration ideas, the 2013 Illinois Travel Guide and more can be found at www.enjoyillinois.com or by calling 1-800-2CONNECT.
Governor Quinn Praises Quad City Manufacturing Laboratory Public-Private Partnership
On July 1st, Governor Pat Quinn praised the public-private partnership at work at the Quad City Manufacturing Laboratory in Rock Island and encouraged others to follow their lead of innovative economic development and education. Governor Quinn toured the facility on the grounds of the Rock Island Arsenal, where he saw a demonstration of their “additive manufacturing” concept at work. The lab is managed, staffed and equipped by Western Illinois University (WIU) but housed at the Rock Island Arsenal.
The Quad City Manufacturing Laboratory is a national resource for the research and development of advanced materials and manufacturing technology for commercial and military applications. Along with its other public and private partners, the lab is working to develop an advanced manufacturing cluster in the Quad Cities region. This will assist the Rock Island Arsenal and regional manufacturers to use emerging trends in advanced materials, additive manufacturing, automation, rapid prototyping, robotics and engineering. It will also strengthen this region's chances of becoming a key player in President Barack Obama's new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, which could result in an influx of millions of dollars in new private and public sector dollars to the Quad Cities region.
Governor Quinn Signs New School Safety Law
On July 1st, Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law that requires all Illinois schools to hold active safety drills with local law enforcement to ensure they are as prepared as possible in the event of a shooting incident. Senate Bill 1625 amends the School Safety Drill Act and makes several changes to the official requirements for school safety drills. The new law requires that law enforcement participate in a shooting incident drill. The drill must take place in each school building where students are taught, and it must occur during the academic year.
Governor Quinn Announces Major Progress Helping Families Stay in Their Homes Through Hardest Hit Program
On July 19th, Governor Pat Quinn was joined by U.S. Department of the Treasury officials to announce the success of his Illinois Hardest Hit Program and urge homeowners to apply for up to $35,000 in mortgage payment assistance by Sept. 30 when the program ends. The Illinois Hardest Hit program assists homeowners who have experienced an income reduction due to unemployment or substantial underemployment, by making mortgage payments on behalf of the borrower for up to 18 months, or $35,000 per household. To date, 9,000 homeowners have been helped in 96 of the 102 counties in Illinois. Anyone seeking assistance under the Illinois Hardest Hit program, or researching other foreclosure prevention resources, should visit the IFPN website at www.keepyourhomeillinois.org or call the hotline at 855-KEEP-411.
Governor Quinn Announces 44 Community Organizations to Drive Affordable Care Act Outreach and Enrollment
Marking a critical new phase in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) across Illinois, on July 17th, Governor Pat Quinn announced $27 million in federal funds to 44 community organizations that will conduct outreach and education, and facilitate enrollment in the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace. Enrollment in the Marketplace will begin on Oct. 1, with coverage to start Jan. 1, 2014. The Marketplace will be accessed through a user-friendly website where individuals, families and small businesses will be able to compare health care policies and premiums and purchase comprehensive health coverage. Those with incomes between 138 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level will receive subsidies on a sliding scale if they obtain coverage through the marketplace.
For a complete list of the community groups selected to participate in the ACA outreach and enrollment effort and for more information about the state’s implementation of the ACA, go to: HealthCareReform.illinois.gov.
Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Fight Gang Crimes
Governor Pat Quinn signed two new laws on July 8th to help fight gang crimes and protect those who aid law enforcement in these efforts. House Bill 1139 creates the Gang Crime Witness Protection Act, to assist those who are actively aiding in the prosecution of gang crimes. The program will reimburse counties for assistance they provide victims and witnesses, including temporary living costs and moving expenses. HB 1139 takes effect immediately. House Bill 2768 requires school principals and assistant principals to report any illegal weapons use or possession, or any illegal gang activity, to the proper law enforcement officials. The bill also requires courts and law enforcement officials to notify principals when one of their students is detained for illegal gang activity. HB 2768 takes effect Jan. 1.
Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Protect Illinois’ Most Vulnerable Adults
Governor Pat Quinn signed into law the Adult Protective Services Act on July 1st. House Bill 948 includes some of the nation’s strongest safeguards to protect older adults and those with disabilities, and will ensure that every case of suspected abuse, neglect and financial exploitation is thoroughly investigated and promptly referred to law enforcement. The legislation takes effect immediately, with several new provisions taking effect January 1, 2014.
Governor Quinn Urges U.S. House Leaders to Adopt Commonsense Immigration Reform
Governor Pat Quinn joined 14 Governors on July 18th urging Congress to adopt commonsense immigration reform without delay. In a letter to US House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Governor Quinn noted that there is “widespread support” for comprehensive legislation, and we need an immigration system that “reflects our nation’s values and strengthens our economies.” The Governors’ letter cites the economic value of immigration reform, noting a Congressional Budget Office report that projects a decrease in the federal deficit of $175 billion over 10 years due to the reforms. The Governors argue that the new law is vital to border security, family farmers in need of a reliable workforce and foreign graduate students. In June, the legislation passed the US Senate 68-32.