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.
On March 6, Governor Pat Quinn delivered his Fiscal Year 2014 budget address to the Illinois General Assembly. In his speech, he discussed his efforts to build the state’s economy that have resulted in 167,000 private sector jobs created since 2009. In addition to urging the legislature to enact pension reform, Governor Quinn outlined his continued commitment to promoting efficiency in state government, paying off old bills, protecting veterans’ services, and creating more jobs. For more information on the FY14 Illinois Budget, visit Budget.Illinois.gov.
On March 19, Governor Quinn announced the best contract for taxpayers in Illinois history. Negotiations between AFSCME Council 31 and the state took more than 15 months and the agreement was ratified by AFSCME members over a two week period. The approved agreement will result in $900 million in healthcare savings over the life of the contract. The contract puts an end to free retiree healthcare in Illinois, and all retirees will begin paying a modest portion of their health insurance premiums starting July 1. In addition, the contract includes the most modest Cost of Living Adjustments in state history at a rate of zero percent, two percent and two percent. Combined with step and longevity adjustments, this will total about $200 million over the life of the contract. The contract calls for new hires to start three steps lower, which amounts to about nine percent less starting salary, which will save taxpayers money for years to come.
Illinois Fifth in Nation for Best Corporate Location
On March 4, Governor Pat Quinn announced that Illinois has been ranked fifth in the nation for new and expanded corporate facilities. Illinois moved up two spots from last year’s seventh place ranking, according to the annual analysis by Site Selection magazine, one of the nation’s premier corporate real estate and economic development publications. In 2012, Illinois had 322 corporate facilities locate or expand in the state. For more information on why Illinois is the right place for business, visit illinoisbiz.biz.
Circle Interchange Reconstruction to Create Thousands of Jobs
On March 14, Governor Pat Quinn directed the Illinois Department of Transportation to accelerate a $420 million project that will reconstruct Chicago’s famed Circle Interchange, improving traffic flow in the most congested interchange in the nation. This landmark project will create thousands of jobs for Illinois citizens and bring economic growth to our state. For more information about this project, visit circleinterchange.org.
Women-Owned Businesses to Support Economic Growth
On March 12, Governor Pat Quinn announced that the state of Illinois will launch a new initiative to support the growth of women-owned businesses as a driving force in the Illinois economy. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will host the state’s first Women Business Owners Symposium at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago on March 29, coinciding with Women’s History Month. This event will bring together business leaders, lenders and technology experts to showcase the knowledge and opportunities available to help women-owned firms expand in Illinois. To register or for more information, visit ildceo.net/WBOS.
Fighting Flood Damage in Alexander County
On March 18, Governor Pat Quinn announced $8.7 million in federal funding to acquire and demolish 167 flood-prone homes and businesses in Alexander County. The funding was approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the state will provide nearly $3 million in capital funds to cover the required 25 percent local match. This announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to driving the region’s recovery forward. Shortly after the floods, Governor Quinn was successful in securing a federal disaster declaration which provided important assistance for individuals, businesses and counties working to rebuild.
Youth Violence Prevention Week
On March 18, Governor Pat Quinn was joined by Illinois Department of Public Health Director LaMar Hasbrouck, legislators and other public health officials at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago to kick off National Youth Violence Prevention Week. The governor encouraged access to resources and non-violent conflict resolution as part of his agenda to increase public safety and protect Illinois’ youth. For more information about youth violence prevention resources, visit IDPH.state.il.us.
Developing Millennium Reserve
On March 1, Governor Pat Quinn took a major step toward revitalizing Chicago’s Calumet region by announcing $6.8 million in state and local investments to continue developing the Millennium Reserve, a 140,000-acre project to create the largest open space area in the country. Making the Millennium Reserve a reality is part of the governor’s ongoing commitment to protecting Illinois’ natural resources, creating jobs and strengthening communities. For more information on the Millennium Reserve Initiative, visit MillenniumReserve.illinois.gov.
Increased Mortgage Assistance
On March 15, Governor Pat Quinn announced that effective April 1, the Illinois Housing Development Authority is increasing the mortgage assistance available through the Illinois Hardest Hit program to $35,000 per household across the state. IHDA expects an additional 100 families per month to be eligible for mortgage payment support under the program extended limits. Homeowners who exited the program or were denied assistance before January 1, 2013 should reach out to the housing counselor they worked with to re-apply. New applicants can apply at IllinoisHardestHit.org.
School Breakfast Challenge Awards
On March 20, Governor Quinn announced the winners of the Illinois School Breakfast Challenge and emphasized the link between a nutritious breakfast and classroom performance. Twelve school districts from across the state earned $36,000 in cash prizes for dramatically boosting their daily breakfast participation rates and “closing the breakfast gap.” This challenge is part of the governor’s agenda to improve education and public health across Illinois.
Governor Quinn Eliminates 75 Unnecessary State Boards and Commissions
On March 8, as part of his commitment to making Illinois government more efficient, Governor Pat Quinn issued an Executive Order eliminating 75 unnecessary state boards and commissions. This announcement followed other major cost-saving measures Governor Quinn has achieved since taking office, including closing or consolidating 54 state facilities to save more than $100 million annually, and saving $50 million annually by eliminating more than two million square feet of office space.
Illinois Department of Agriculture Requests Specialty Crop Grant Proposals
The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) is now accepting applications for federal specialty crop grants. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Farm Bill, and is intended to strengthen the competitiveness of the state’s specialty crop industry. The IDOA will accept grant proposals until April 15, 2013 at 4 p.m. Request for Proposal packets can be found online at agr.state.il.us/Grants/specialtycrops or by contacting Delayne Reeves. She can be reached by phone at (217) 524-9129 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illinois Creative Economy Initiative
On March 19, Governor Quinn launched the Illinois Creative Economy Initiative as part of his commitment to creating jobs and driving Illinois’ economy forward. The initiative will explore innovative strategies to grow the $2.7 billion creative economy in Illinois, which employs thousands of people and is a key driver of tourism to our state. The Creative Economy Initiative will be led by Ra Joy, who will work to bring all stakeholders together to identify and deploy strategies to boost a variety of arts and strengthen their role in the state’s economy. Joy has served as executive director of the Illinois Arts Alliance since 2007, and has been an advocate, community organizer and coalition builder for various arts causes for more than 15 years. For more information about the Creative Economy Initiative, visit CreativeEconomy.illinois.gov.
Affordable Care Act
On March 23, Governor Pat Quinn tapped director of the Illinois Department of Public Health LaMar Hasbrouck to lead a workgroup that will recommend steps the state needs to take to fill thousands of new health care jobs created by the ACA. The workgroup will assess the existing health care workforce landscape, and develop an analysis of gaps that need to be filled both for current needs and for the impending demand once hundreds of thousands of people gain access to health coverage as of January 1, 2014. The workgroup will recommend a workforce action plan by September 2013 to immediately address any gaps that are identified and to strengthen training and education efforts for health care jobs. In addition to IDPH, the workgroup includes the departments of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, Health Care & Family Services, Aging, Financial & Professional Regulation, Employment Securities, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Services and Children & Family Services with support from the UIC School of Medicine and participation from external stakeholders as needed.
2013 GYPSY Moth Treatment Program
The Illinois Department of Agriculture will hold open houses to explain its plans this year to treat parts of northern Illinois for the destructive gypsy moth. Presentations are scheduled for March 27 in Lisle and April 2 in Wheaton. Maps of the treatment sites are posted on the department’s website at www.agr.state.il.us. Simply click on the Gypsy Moth banner.
Subscribe to Flag Honors
To receive notification when the Governor has ordered all flags lowered, you may subscribe to the Illinois Flag Honors e-News. To subscribe, please click here.