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Governor's Monthly Newsletter: June 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

Gov. Pat Quinn Sets July 9 for General Assembly to Act on Comprehensive Pension Reform

On June 19, Governor Pat Quinn set Tuesday, July 9 as the deadline for legislators to act on comprehensive pension reform. This announcement follows the General Assembly’s vote to establish a conference committee, an idea proposed by the governor on June 14 to break the legislative gridlock. The governor proposed a conference committee to bridge the differences between the House and the Senate, and forge agreement on a comprehensive pension reform plan.

Members of the pension reform conference committee will work together to resolve differences between the House and the Senate. When a majority of committee members reach agreement, they will issue a pension reform amendment to the General Assembly for further action. The governor has directed his staff and budget analysts to continue working with legislators to provide extensive policy support throughout the process.

Governor Quinn Announces Federal Aid Approved for Local Governments in Counties Impacted by Historic April Flooding

Governor Pat Quinn announced on June 13 that the Obama Administration has approved the state’s request for federal aid to help local governments recover from April’s historic flooding. This announcement marks the Quinn Administration’s strong success in obtaining federal assistance for local governments in 39 of the 40 counties impacted by the flooding. This federal declaration allows local governments to seek reimbursement for 75 percent of their eligible flood-related expenses. Governor Quinn submitted the request for these counties on May 31, citing nearly $20 million in costs to local governments for their flood fight, public safety and recovery efforts. The approved counties each met the federal threshold of $3.45 per capita.

Federal aid, through Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual Assistance Program, was also secured for families and businesses in 33 counties across Illinois. To date, this effort has produced more than $108 million in assistance for nearly 43,000 individuals and households. In addition, $11.9 million in low-interest loans have been approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration to support the recovery. Total flood-related expenses for state and local governments topped $70 million.

Governor Quinn Signs Nation’s Strongest Regulations on Hydraulic Fracturing

Governor Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 1715 – the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act - into law on June 17. The new law enacts the nation’s strongest environmental protections for hydraulic fracturing and has the potential to create thousands of jobs in Southern Illinois. Passage of this legislation was one of Governor Quinn’s top priorities this year, and the Quinn Administration helped negotiate and draft the legislation.

Senate Bill 1715 enacts the most comprehensive set of regulations on hydraulic fracturing in the nation, and includes strong provisions to protect water quality, assure transparency and promote public involvement. The governor also signed Senate Bill 2155 into law on June 17, which makes several technical changes needed to implement the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act. Both bills take effect immediately.

Governor Quinn and Indiana Gov. Pence Open Business Development Forum for Illiana Expressway

On June 24, Governor Pat Quinn and Indiana Governor Mike Pence were joined by transportation officials today to open a business development forum in Rosemont for the Illiana Expressway. The project to build the Illiana Expressway, which will connect I-55 in Illinois with I-65 in Indiana, is expected to create 9,000 construction jobs. The forum, Partnering for Progress: Financing through Public-Private Partnerships, will introduce area, national and international contractors and investors to this critical capital project and provide information on its economic opportunities.

The Illiana Expressway will be a 47-mile access controlled highway that extends from I-55 in Illinois on the west to I-65 in Indiana on the east. The preferred corridor is located in Will County in Illinois and Lake County in Indiana. When built, the Illiana Corridor Project will reduce the strain of truck traffic on local roads, thereby improving safety, travel times and job accessibility. Potential economic benefits include the creation of more than 9,000 construction jobs and more than 25,000 long-term jobs.

Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Help Illinois Families Stay in Their Homes

On June 20, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law that will ensure struggling homeowners in Illinois have a grace period of up to 90 days before foreclosure, giving families extra time to get back on track and stay in their homes. House Bill 99 extends the Illinois Homeowner Protection Act by three years, to July 2016. The bill passed the Illinois General Assembly nearly unanimously and takes effect immediately.

The Homeowner Protection Act gives Illinois homeowners a grace period of up to 90 days on mortgage foreclosures for homeowners who enter housing counseling. Under the law, mortgage holders must notify struggling homeowners who are at least 30 days late on their payments that they have 30 days to seek housing counseling to get their loan back on track. If the homeowner enters counseling, they get an additional 30 days to work out a payment plan or refinance their loan.

Governor Quinn Launches Illinois Corporate/Start-Up Challenge

On June 23, Governor Pat Quinn launched the Illinois Corporate/Start-Up Challenge, a program designed to connect the state’s emerging, innovative start-up businesses and major corporations, strengthening the connections between these critical components of the business community. The initiative is part of the governor’s agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward.

Four major corporations have agreed to participate in the pilot program: Allstate, Molex, Motorola Mobility and Walgreens. Each company is designating a point of contact to serve as a liaison to the Illinois start-up and technology community, functioning as a "Chief Start-up Officer" for the purposes of this program. The pilot, to be run by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC) with support from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Innovation Council, will assist these corporations by matching them with some of Illinois’ most innovative start-ups and emerging companies.

As part of the program, the corporations will work with a select group of Illinois-based start-up companies over the course of four to six months, providing them with mentoring, partnership and business opportunities. Each corporation will have a customized plan based on their needs and innovation priorities, and will report back on the outcomes of their engagement. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage all Illinois companies to support the growth of emerging Illinois businesses.

Governor Quinn Praises U.S. Supreme Court Action on DOMA

On June 26, Governor Pat Quinn issued a statement praising the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act. In 2011, Governor Pat Quinn fought for and signed into law historic civil unions legislation. Since that time, nearly 5,200 couples across 94 counties have joined in a civil union. Governor Quinn called for the next step of full marriage equality in Illinois more than a year ago and made it a top legislative priority in his 2013 State of the State address.

Senate Bill 10, sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Heather Steans, would have established equal access to status, benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities for same-sex and different-sex couples entering into marriage. The bill passed the Senate on February 14, and was not brought to a vote in the House.

Governor Quinn Encourages Use of LINK Cards at Illinois Farmers Markets

Governor Pat Quinn reminded working families across Illinois on June 8 to take advantage of the LINK Up Illinois Double Value Coupon Program during Illinois’ farmers market season.

LINK Up Illinois aims to connect low-income residents with nutritious food options by providing farmers markets throughout the state with Double Value Coupons. The Double Value Coupon Program allows Illinois LINK card users to receive twice the dollar value when purchasing LINK-approved foods at their local farmers market. In 2012, LINK Up Illinois helped farmers markets throughout the state serve more than 6,000 families and generate over $227,000 in combined LINK and Double Value Coupon Program purchases.

On June 15, Governor Pat Quinn launched the “Where Fresh Is” campaign, an effort aimed to promote the purchase of Illinois-produced fruits and vegetables. The campaign by the Illinois Department of Agriculture is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to promote Illinois products and create jobs in communities across Illinois. Residents are encouraged to take part in the “Where Fresh Is” campaign by visiting participating grocery stores and farmers markets.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture specialty crops grant is funding the “Where Fresh Is” campaign. The grant allows 200 Illinois grocery stores and 100 farmers markets throughout the state to receive a starter pack of materials that includes a banner and product stickers, all with an updated “Where Fresh Is” logo. The logo features an assortment of fruits and vegetables grown in Illinois, with an eye-catching yellow background and the “Where Fresh Is” slogan on a red ribbon beneath the word “Illinois.” The new point-of-sale materials are just one piece of a larger statewide initiative that will promote the campaign through television, radio and billboard advertising.

As part of the “Where Fresh Is” campaign, Governor Quinn encouraged residents to take the “Buy Illinois Challenge” and pledge to spend $10 of their existing grocery bill per week on Illinois products. This would generate more than two billion dollars in new economic activity every year, create thousands of jobs in the farming and food industries, and revitalize both rural and urban communities. Those who would like to participate should visit www.buyillinoischallenge.com.

Governor Quinn Signed Legislation to Limit Elected Officials’ Compensation

On June 23, Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law that limits compensation for many of Illinois’ elected officials. This action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to rein in the cost of government in Illinois, ensure accountability and return Illinois to sound financial footing.

House Bill 1441, sponsored by State Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) and Senate President John J. Cullerton (D-Chicago), requires every member of the Illinois General Assembly to take one unpaid furlough day per month during Fiscal Year 2014, which starts July 1. It also prohibits any cost of living increases in FY 2014 for General Assembly members, state constitutional officers, state’s attorneys, and certain appointed state offices and board and commission members. In addition, the legislation sets lodging, meal and mileage reimbursement rates for all General Assembly session days at the same rate that has been in effect for the last three years.

Governor Quinn Marched in United Puerto Rican People’s Parade

On June 15, Governor Pat Quinn marched in the United Puerto Rican People’s Parade in celebration of the heritage of Illinois’ 190,000 residents of Puerto Rican descent. The celebration is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to make Illinois the most welcoming state in the nation.

Since taking office, Governor Quinn has appointed several leaders of Puerto Rican background to high-level state posts, including Illinois Commerce Commission Commissioner Miguel del Valle, Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau and Department of Human Services Assistant Secretary Nélida Smyser-De León.

May Unemployment Rate Falls to 9.1 Percent

The unemployment rate fell to 9.1 percent in May and Illinois businesses added 11,800 private sector jobs, according to preliminary data released on June 20 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Illinois has added 227,600 private sector jobs since January 2010 when job growth returned following nearly two years of consecutive monthly declines. Leading growth sectors are Professional and Business Services (+98,800); Education and Health Services (+58,500); and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+34,700). In May 2013, the number of unemployed fell by 11,600 (-1.9 percent) to 599,200.

Federal Unemployment Benefits Reduced

Weekly unemployment insurance benefits to the long-term unemployed will be reduced 16.8 percent as a result of federal sequestration’s across-the-board budget cuts, the Illinois Department of Employment Security stated on June 6.

The reduction will be reflected in payments beginning June 10 for those collecting federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC). U.S. Department of Labor officials tell IDES the reductions will end September 30, the end of the federal fiscal year. Approximately 80,000 individuals collect federal unemployment compensation. The average weekly benefit will be reduced by about $51. State benefits, which are funded through a payroll tax, will not change. State benefits represent the first 25 or 26 weeks of unemployment insurance compensation, depending upon when the claim was initiated. Federally funded EUC benefits are paid after state benefits.

New Affordable Housing Developments to Serve Kane County Families and Seniors

On June 7, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), on behalf of Governor Pat Quinn, celebrated the grand opening of River Haven Place and Gardiner Place apartments. River Haven Place and Gardiner Place apartments stimulated the economy of East Dundee by creating nearly 300 construction and ongoing jobs, and will enable generations of families to live near each other in their home communities. An estimated 300 residents will live in the two developments.

IHDA provided financing to build River Haven Place and Gardiner Place by allocating tax credits which generated $34.2 million in private equity. Under Governor Quinn, IHDA is dedicated to increasing affordable housing opportunities in Kane County and across Illinois. To date, IHDA has funded 19 affordable housing developments with a total of 1,547 units for seniors in Kane County, and has supported the creation of 49 affordable family developments and more than 4,000 units in Kane County.

Please contact (847) 844-4900 for more information about living in Gardiner Place, or (847) 844-4100 for River Haven Place.

Mount Prospect Welcomes First Supportive Housing Development in Northwest Suburbs

The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), the state housing finance agency under Governor Pat Quinn, joined local elected officials and other public-private partners to celebrate the opening of the 39-unit Myers Place in Mount Prospect on June 3. This is the first time in the northwest suburbs of Chicago that a new supportive housing development will open its doors to provide people with disabilities or special needs, enabling them to find stability and live independently.

IHDA financed the development with $2 million in Community Development Block Grant financing in partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and federal housing tax credits that generated $8.1 million in private equity. An additional $102,000 grant through DCEO helped finance the development’s green features. To help the local economy, an estimated 74 jobs were created with the construction of the development.

IDOT’s Operation Teen Safe Driving Program Saves Lives!

Vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teenagers (ages 16-19) in America. According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 5,000 teens die annually in crashes; however statistics demonstrate that teen crashes decline considerably as drivers gain experience. For this reason, IDOT initiated the Operation Teen Safe Driving Program (OTSD) in 2007 to help teen drivers gain real world experience with the overall goal of lowering fatalities. This comprehensive program relies upon support from the Ford Motor Company Fund, the Allstate Foundation, the Illinois State Police, the Secretary of State, the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Governor’s Office.

Since the inception of OTSD, Illinois has recorded a decline in teen fatalities of almost 53 percent. The OTSD program kicks off each year in August, schools submit applications in October, judging takes place in February, winning schools are announced in March and the program concludes in April with the FDSFL events. For information on the OTSD program please visit www.teensafedrivingillinois.org.

IDOT Expected to Seek Proposals in mid-July to Build High-Speed Locomotives

On June 13, Governor Pat Quinn announced that significant progress in preparing the Request for Proposals (RFP) for release has been made for approximately 35 high-performance diesel-electric locomotives for Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Iowa in the Midwest, and for Washington and California on the West Coast. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is leading the multi-state locomotive procurement, as work continues on an aggressive schedule aimed at issuing the RFP in July.

IDOT is leading the effort to procure approximately 35 next-generation diesel locomotives for high-speed passenger trains for the six-state coalition. IDOT was involved last year in a multi-state procurement of the 130 next-generation bi-level rail cars for high-speed service. That procurement resulted in the selection of Sumitomo/Nippon-Sharyo, which is building the rail cars from its plant in Rochelle, Illinois, including the 88 cars to be used on Midwest high-speed corridors. The Rochelle plant opened in 2012 and has created more than 250 jobs in Illinois.