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 proposed his Fiscal Year 2015 budget on March 26, “Securing Illinois’ Financial Future.” The Governor’s address detailed an honest and responsible budget for the next fiscal year along with a five-year blueprint that will secure the state’s finances for the long-term, provide significant tax relief to homeowners and working families, and invest like never before in education and early childhood.
The Governor’s budget proposal for comprehensive tax reform protects children, working families and seniors while preventing radical cuts to critical services. Some highlights of the address include: Providing every homeowner in Illinois with a guaranteed $500 property tax refund every year; new tax cuts to business that provide job training; maintaining the state’s current income tax rates, which will allow the state to balance the budget; and instituting strong fiscal controls over state spending to make sure Illinois lives within its means for years to come. Additionally, the Governor stressed that he would not tax retirement income and proposed the largest investment in education in the state’s history. For more information about the Governor’s budget proposal visit Budget.Illinois.gov. A copy of the Governor’s speech can be found at: Speech Transcript
On March 3 Governor Quinn announced that Illinois has moved up to third in the nation and the Chicago area is now the number one metro market in the country for new and expanded corporate facilities. In 2013, Illinois had 383 corporate facilities locate or expand in the state. The rankings put out by Site Selection required that new corporate facilities and expansions had to meet at least one of three criteria - involve a capital investment of at least $1 million, create at least 50 jobs or add at least 20,000 square feet of new floor area. The rankings are regarded by corporate real estate analysts as the “the industry scoreboard.” For more information on why Illinois is the right place for business visit: illinoisbiz.biz.
On March 21 Governor Quinn announced the Illinois Tollway will invest $1.4 billion in transportation improvements in 2014, the largest one-year infrastructure investment in the agency’s history. The investments will focus on rebuilding 160 lane miles of roads, repairing 70 bridges, and building or improving 20 interchanges while supporting up to 15,000 jobs. For more detailed information about Illinois Tollway construction projects visit illinoistollway.com.
On March 6 the Governor announced an innovative state program to help provide affordable homeownership opportunities for people and communities in need. The Illinois Homebuyer Rehabilitation Assistance Program will allow hard-working families buying vacant homes to apply for grants up to $25,000 to help encourage the reuse of vacant single family properties. This announcement is part of the Governor’s commitment to strengthen and stabilize Illinois communities by making homeownership more affordable.
On March 5 Governor Quinn announced $45 million in relief for communities devastated by November tornadoes. The assistance was assembled at the Governor’s direction following the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denial of the state’s appeal for federal disaster assistance for local governments. The Governor is working with U.S Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk to pass legislation that would give FEMA a clearer, more substantive formula when evaluating natural disasters.
The relief package will provide much needed assistance for the municipalities of Washington, Brookport, Gifford, New Minden, Diamond, Coal City, Pekin and East Peoria. All counties that were impacted by the historic tornadoes will be eligible for assistance. Multiple state agencies will provide funds in order to help with the disaster recovery. DCEO will provide up to $19.1 Million in state and federal funds, IDOT will provide up to $10 million for communities to repair storm damaged infrastructure, and several other agencies including IFA, IEMA, IEPA and IHDA will all contribute to the relief package.
On March 7 Governor Quinn announced that a new report has found Illinois leads the nation in the number of communities using renewable electricity. The report was sponsored by multiple organizations including the Sierra Club and the Environmental Law & Policy center. The report detailed 91 communities in Illinois that achieved 100 percent renewable electricity. Those communities represent more than 1.7 million individuals which is significantly more than any other state in the US. To view the full report visit: gocleangolocal.org/illinoisreport/.
On March 13 Governor Quinn was joined by actor Martin Sheen to continue his ongoing fight to raise the Illinois’ minimum wage from $8.25 to at least $10. Sheen, an award winning actor and strong advocate for social justice, strongly supports the wage increase and lent his support to the Governor’s fight for Illinois workers. Sheen stated, “Raising the minimum wage is about social justice- it’s about giving everyone a fair opportunity to live and grow.” The Governor supports raising the Illinois’ minimum wage over the next two years. By raising the wage to $10, a half million Illinois consumers will make an extra $4,800 a year.
On March 19 Governor Quinn saluted the developers and workers on the 111 W. Wacker project in downtown Chicago. The $180 million project by Related Midwest has employed more than 1,000 skilled construction workers and is transforming a long vacant and practically completed building into a new residential tower. The event was part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and drive the Illinois economy forward. The project that employed 1,000 workers has totaled 510,000 hours of labor to date, and after completion of the job 125 workers will service the building.
Governor Quinn proclaimed that from March 23- 29 Illinois would participate in a national week of service, encouraging people across Illinois to find ways to give back to their communities. The announcement was part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to encourage volunteerism in Illinois. “There is no better way to give back than to donate your time by volunteering,” the Governor said. People across Illinois can find volunteer opportunities in their communities by visiting serve.illinois.gov. The website is run by the Serve Illinois commission, a 40 member bi-partisan board appointed by the Governor to improve Illinois communities by enhancing traditional volunteer activities and supporting national service programs.
On March 20 the Governor announced that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will join seven distinguished Illinoisans to receive the Order of Lincoln, the state’s highest honor for professional achievement and public service. Clinton was raised in Park Ridge, Illinois. Her lifetime of public service and being a champion of human rights, democracy, civil society, and opportunities for women and girls around the world will be recognized on May 3rd when she receives the award at the Field Museum in Chicago as part of the 50th annual convocation of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. For more information about the Order of Lincoln or to view information about this year’s recipients please visit: www.thelincolnacademyofillinois.org.