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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Unemployment Rate Declines
The April unemployment rate fell to 9.3 percent from 9.5 percent in March, according to preliminary data released on May 16 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Illinois has added 216,000 private sector jobs since January 2010 when job growth returned following nearly two years of consecutive monthly declines. Leading growth sectors since January 2010 are Professional and Business Services (+91,600); Education and Health Services (+59,600); and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+37,600).
Newtown Parents Join Governor Quinn on Gun Control
On May 19, Governor Pat Quinn, along with Senate President John Cullerton and Senator Dan Kotowski, met with parents of the victims from the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy to urge lawmakers to ban the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines in Illinois. The governor strongly supports Senate Bill 1002, which will allow Illinois to join more than 10 other states across the country that put reasonable restrictions on the size of ammunition magazines. The measure passed the Senate Executive Committee on May 20.
AFSCME Contract Ratification
On May 17, Governor Pat Quinn announced the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 members’ final ratification of a new union contract covering approximately 35,000 state employees. Negotiations took more than 15 months, and the agreement received final ratification by AFSCME members in a vote that concluded on May 16. The agreement is part of the governor’s agenda to restore fiscal stability to Illinois.
The approved agreement will result in $900 million in healthcare savings over the life of the contract. The contract implements a new law requiring retirees to begin paying a modest portion of their health insurance premiums starting July 1. In addition, it includes modest Cost of Living Adjustments at a rate of 0 percent the first year, 2 percent the second and 2 percent the third year of the contract. The contract calls for new hires to start three steps lower, which amounts to about 9 percent less starting salary, which will save taxpayers money for years to come.
Illinois Coal Exports Set Record in 2012, Supports 4,000 Jobs
On May 1, Governor Pat Quinn released a new report that forecasts continued major export growth for the Illinois coal industry due to the state’s large volumes of coal, competitive prices and access to prime water and land transportation routes. Illinois is now the fifth largest coal producing state in the U.S., up from ninth in 2009. The industry supports more than 4,000 jobs in Illinois. The report and its recommendations support Governor Quinn’s five-year-plan to double exports by 2014 and to continue providing an export-friendly business climate in Illinois.
Aisin Electronics Expansion Creates 80 Jobs
On May 23, Governor Quinn announced that Japanese auto component supplier Aisin Electronics Illinois LLC is investing $32.8 million to expand its operation in Marion, creating 80 new full-time jobs for local workers. The announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and drive our economy forward. Illinois’ transportation network, world-class infrastructure and highly skilled workforce were key factors in the company’s decision to expand in Marion.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is providing a targeted investment package for Aisin Electronics that includes a $250,000 grant under the Large Business Development Program. The program is designed for businesses undertaking major expansion projects that will result in a substantial private investment and the creation or retention of a large number of Illinois jobs. Aisin Electronics is also eligible for a $40,000 Employer Training Investment Program grant to help increase the skills of its workforce, and the firm will benefit from being located in an Enterprise Zone. The company will be eligible for tax credits based on job creation.
FedEx Ground Distribution Center to Open in Sauget Creating 175 Jobs
On May 14, Governor Pat Quinn announced that FedEx Corporation will invest $23.5 million to build a new FedEx Ground distribution center in Sauget, Illinois which will create 175 full-time and permanent part-time jobs for local workers. This announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and drive the Illinois economy forward. Illinois’ transportation network, world-class infrastructure and highly skilled workforce were key factors in the company’s decision to build in Sauget.
The 181,000-square-foot distribution center is scheduled to open at Sauget Industrial Parkway in August 2014. Once fully operational, the new facility will process 10,000 packages an hour. The center is part of FedEx Ground’s nationwide network expansion plan, which has added 11 major hubs and expanded or relocated 500 facilities across the U.S. since 2005. FedEx Ground currently operates 16 facilities in Illinois. The facility will create 25 full-time and 150 part-time jobs. For more information on why Illinois is the right place for business, visit http://illinoisbiz.biz.
1871 Digital Startup Hub Generates 800 Jobs
On May 3, Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration joined leaders from 1871 – the first-of-its-kind digital startup hub – to release data showcasing its positive impact on the local economy. During its first year, the co-working center for digital startups in Chicago has generated 800 jobs and tens of millions of dollars in investment, while paving the way for future business leaders. Operated by the nonprofit Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC), 1871 offers educational programming, access to mentors and investors and other resources to help early-stage entrepreneurs accelerate their path to success.
Governor Quinn has worked to expand innovation through entrepreneurship in Illinois, investing in emerging fields and supporting startups across the state. During his 2012 State of the State Address, the governor announced that the state was investing $2.3 million to create and launch 1871. His early support and investment was critical in taking the startup hub from planning stages to reality.
Governor Quinn Requests Federal Disaster Aid
On May 17, Governor Pat Quinn asked the federal government to add 16 Illinois counties to a recent federal disaster declaration due to widespread flooding in mid-April. Counties included in this request are: Bureau, Crawford, Henderson, Knox, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Woodford. The federal government had earlier issued a disaster declaration for 11 additional counties.
Governor Quinn declared a total of 49 counties state disaster areas after torrential rains caused widespread flash and river flooding. Those counties include: Adams, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Clark, Cook, Crawford, DeKalb, Douglas, DuPage, Fulton, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Lawrence, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, Mercer, Monroe, Morgan, Ogle, Peoria, Pike, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Whiteside, Will, Winnebago and Woodford.
To date, Governor Quinn has secured federal aid to help people and businesses in the following 25 counties: Bureau, Cook, Crawford, DeKalb, DuPage, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Kane, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, Peoria, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, Will, and Woodford. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the assistance program, has a toll-free telephone number (800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for hearing and speech impaired) for victims to apply for assistance. Registration can also be done online at http://disasterassistance.gov.
Electric Rate Hike Vetoed
On May 5, Governor Pat Quinn vetoed the Electric Rate Hike Bill, which would allow Illinois’ large electric utilities to undermine the state’s oversight and enact an estimated $70 million rate hike. The governor, who 30 years ago spearheaded creation of the Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB) - Illinois’ largest consumer advocacy group - noted that the bill would circumvent more than a century of state oversight of electric utilities. The rate hike proposed in this bill would be in addition to a $311 million rate hike Commonwealth Edison proposed to the Illinois Commerce Commission just last week. Governor Quinn’s veto was overridden by the General Assembly on May 22.
290th Birthday of the Illinois National Guard
On May 9, Governor Pat Quinn honored the 290th birthday of the Illinois National Guard, saluting its members who embody the democratic ideal of the citizen soldier. The Illinois National Guard has a dual mission: The state mission, under the governor’s command, is to respond to domestic emergencies in Illinois or elsewhere through cooperative agreements between states; and the federal mission is to go into combat or respond to federal emergencies at the direction of the President of the United States. There are 13,000 Illinois National Guard soldiers and airmen serving at more than 50 armories, bases and training facilities across Illinois.
Illinois Ranked as a Top Ten Bicycle Friendly State
The League of American Bicyclists ranked Illinois 9th in their “Bicycle Friendly States” publication. This ranking is based on infrastructure and funding, education programs and enforcement of bicycle-friendly laws. Governor Quinn continues to work with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and other partners in developing new programs that encourage bicycling so Illinois remains a “Bicycle Friendly State.” IDOT recently launched an online web portal for the Illinois Bike Transportation Plan that addresses statewide and regional analysis of current accommodations, policies and planning documents for bicycling.
Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Crack Down on Violent Flash Mobs
On May 18, Governor Pat Quinn signed an innovative new law that will crack down on individuals who use electronic communication or social media to organize a violent flash mob. Signing this bill is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure the safety of all people in every community across Illinois.
Sponsored by State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), Senate Bill 1005 allows a judge to hand down an extended prison sentence to anyone convicted of mob action who uses social media or text messaging to organize it. This legislation is in response to a growing trend of large groups using social media such as Twitter and Facebook to organize flash mobs to commit crimes.
Current Illinois law allows judges to impose a one- to three-year prison sentence for those convicted of using social media or electronic communication to organize or solicit a violent flash mob. The new law, which passed the General Assembly with near unanimous support, will increase the penalty to three to six years in prison.
Asian Carp Monitoring and Response Plan
On May 9, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee released its 2013 Asian Carp Monitoring and Response Plan (MRP). The 2013 MRP outlines a revised and aggressive set of actions to track and remove Asian carp in the Upper Illinois River and the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) to prevent Asian carp from establishing populations in the CAWS and Lake Michigan. For more information and to read the MRP, please visit: www.asiancarp.us.
Memorial Day Weekend
Governor Pat Quinn honored our service members – active and retired – at several events this Memorial Day Weekend.
On May 24, Governor Quinn visited his grammar school alma mater, St. Isaac Jogues in Hinsdale, to join the school’s students in honoring and remembering our service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. Ten years ago this week, then-Lt. Governor Quinn dedicated a plaque at the school to honor a former classmate, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Lance Corporal Lester Weber of the United States Marine Corps. On February 23, 1969, Lance Corporal Weber led a search and clear operation in Vietnam when his platoon was attacked by a heavily-armed North Vietnamese Army battalion. Weber was mortally wounded while attempting to save the lives of two of his comrades from enemy fire, after having overwhelmed at least eleven enemy troops. He received the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest honor, in 1969 for his “conspicuous gallantry, indomitable courage and unwavering devotion to duty.” His decorations also include the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one Silver Star and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
On May 25, Governor Pat Quinn unveiled the “Portrait of a Soldier” memorial exhibit at the Des Plaines Oasis, and announced the summer exhibit schedule at multiple Tollway oases in Northern Illinois. The exhibit features a series of hand-drawn portraits of nearly all of the 306 Illinois men and women who died in the 9/11 terrorist attack, Iraq, Afghanistan or in combat service for our country since September 11, 2001. It is on display at the Des Plaines Oasis Saturday, May 25, through Sunday, June 2 and will then travel to the Belvidere Oasis through Sunday, June 9. The exhibit will also be on display at the DeKalb, O’Hare, Lake Forest and Chicago Southland Lincoln oases, ending with the July 4 holiday weekend. Also on May 25, Governor Quinn joined city, state and national leaders at Daley Plaza to honor Gold Star families and the brave men and women that have given their lives for our country.
On May 26, Governor Pat Quinn attended the Got Freedom Run at Miner School. Later that day, he announced an investment of an additional $5 million in state capital funds to increase affordable homeownership opportunities under the Welcome Home Heroes program. This program builds on IHDA’s existing affordable home loan program, SmartMove, also available through IHDA’s lenders. The financing package applies to 1-2 unit residential properties located in the state of Illinois that are purchased as a primary residence. Buyers must qualify based on income and purchase price limits, and can apply for the loan package through an IHDA lender. IHDA’s mortgages have lower credit score requirements, provide cash for down payment assistance and require homeownership counseling. A list of lenders is available at www.ihda.org.
On May 27, Governor Quinn attended the annual Park Ridge Memorial Day parade, and later that evening he brought Challenger the bald eagle to soar above U.S. Cellular Field and raise awareness for the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund (IMFRF). Since its passage in 2003, the IMFRF has helped more than 27,000 Illinois military families with nearly $15 million in grants. The program has served as a national model, with more than 35 other states having since passed similar ways for taxpayers to voluntarily help those who have borne the battle. Donations to the fund can also be made by visiting OperationHomefront.org. Checks can be made payable to the Illinois Military Family Relief fund and mailed to: The Illinois Department of Military Affairs, ATTN: IMFRF, 1301 N. MacArthur Boulevard, Springfield, Illinois 62702-2399.
Governor Quinn is a longtime champion of Illinois’ Veterans and service members. As State Treasurer, he launched Operation Homefront to inform National Guard members and reservists of their rights under the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act. As Lt. Governor, his Illinois Military Family Relief Act to aid the spouses and children of those called to active duty became a model for other states. As Governor, he has visited Illinois troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Germany, and is committed to the goal of getting 100,000 Veterans hired in Illinois by 2020.
Investing in Local Parks and Open Space Projects
On May 11, Governor Pat Quinn announced a $15.3 million investment in local park projects across Illinois. The projects are funded through the state’s Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development program (OSLAD) as part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure that no child is left inside. The initiative is designed to expand outdoor recreation and open space in communities across Illinois.
The OSLAD program’s funding recipients are responsible for contributing at least half of the total project cost. The $15.3 million awarded statewide this year, combined with the grantees’ matching funds, will result in more than $30.6 million of local park development projects and land acquisition in Illinois. The program began in 1986, and, not including these most recent projects, has provided approximately $362.5 million for 1,596 local park projects in Illinois. For a full list of projects, please visit dnr.illinois.gov.
Funding for Community-Based Supportive Housing
On May 10, Governor Quinn announced that landlords across Illinois can now apply for a portion of up to $10 million to help increase safe and affordable rental housing for people with special needs. The announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure that all people have the opportunity to follow their dreams and reach their full potential.
The investments are available under the Rental Housing Support Program, one of the nation’s largest state rental assistance programs. Last year, Governor Quinn signed a law that allows landlords providing supportive housing units to apply for subsidies under the Long Term Operating Support (LTOS) portion of the Rental Housing Support Program.
As a result of the law, up to $10 million in rental housing subsidies may be made available over 15 years to eligible landlords to help up to 150 households headed by a person with a disability. The program is administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and funded through a $10 fee collected from real estate document recordings.
Applications will be available for landlords at www.ihda.org through June 10. Tenants for the newly subsidized units will be chosen through the State Referral Network.