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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$270 Million for Education
On October 20, Governor Quinn announced a $270 million investment for capital improvements in 18 school districts around the state, including $54 million for Chicago Public Schools. The projects are part of the Illinois Jobs Now! Program and will construct new buildings as well as expand or improve existing facilities, creating nearly 3,700 jobs. Projects were certified by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Capital Development Board. When combined with local funding, it will represent a $527.7 million investment in schools throughout Illinois.
Extension of Put Illinois to Work
On September 28, Governor Quinn announced a two month extension of the Put Illinois to Work (PITW) program to serve as a bridge until Congress votes on an extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund (TANF/ECF). The August statewide unemployment rate of 9.9 percent, the lowest rate since April 2009, offers additional trend data that shows the Illinois economy is steadily improving. Illinois has led the Midwest with 50,700 new jobs added this year.
On September 30, Governor Quinn announced that the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) will receive $279.3 million in additional support from the Federal Government to assist homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments due to unemployment. This support is in addition to the previously announced $166.4 million through the federal Hardest Hit Fund.
Illinois’ program, called the Hardest Hit Fund’s Homeowner Emergency Loan Program (HHF HELP), will assist low- and moderate-income families throughout Illinois with temporary mortgage payment assistance while they work to regain sufficient income to make their mortgage payments. For more information about currently available foreclosure assistance, please visit www.ihda.org.
Women’s Access to Care
On October 18, Governor Quinn launched the Breast Cancer Quality Screening and Treatment Board as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Board’s main focus is to raise the quality of care for all women – specifically on closing the racial disparity in mortality rates. The Board will also make recommendations on ways to improve access to screening services, early detection, and treatment. This joint initiative consists of 15 medical experts and healthcare advocates and is run in conjunction with the Department of Public Health and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. For more information on Illinois breast cancer screening and treatment at a location near you, please visit the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program website.
Tax Amnesty Program
On October 2, Governor Quinn announced the beginning of the state Tax Amnesty Program, which was signed into law last summer. Those who owe past-due taxes to the State of Illinois now have until November 8 to pay the full amount without receiving any additional interest or penalties. Additional information is available at www.tax.illinois.gov, as well as the through the State of Illinois Taxpayer Assistance Center, open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 1-800-732-8866 or 217-782-3336.
Neighborhood Recovery Initiative
On October 6, Governor Quinn joined community leaders to announce new efforts to reduce violence in urban areas. Administered by the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative is focused on engaging local youth in community endeavors, providing job training and offering capital assistance to small businesses. This initiative hopes to also afford communities the opportunity to engage in their own economic development and provide youth with safe alternatives so they resist participation in violent activities. This program will initially empower 18,000 young people in several of Chicago’s most vulnerable neighborhoods but will eventually expand to violence-prone neighborhoods throughout the State. To obtain more information on antiviolence initiatives in Illinois please visit www.antiviolence.illinois.gov.
Illinois Supports Homeless Veterans
On October 14, Governor Quinn announced a $5 million investment to build quality, affordable apartments and provide other support services for homeless veterans on Chicago’s West Side. The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), invested approximately $4 million in federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding and Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credits to build the development. The federal tax credits will generate an additional $8.8 million in private equity for construction of the building. The development will provide housing and a host of other services, including job training, a health clinic, and counseling for up to 80 veterans as well as create 75 construction jobs. Hope Manor Apartments is expected to be completed in November 2011.
1000 Communication Jobs
On October 8, Governor Quinn announced a more than $7 million business investment package that will keep U.S. Cellular Corporation in Illinois. The decision by one of the nation’s leading communications companies will create 25 new jobs and retain 1,075 jobs at its corporate headquarters in Chicago and at another facility in Bensenville. U.S. Cellular is renewing the leases for its Chicago headquarters and a management information systems hub in Bensenville.
Volunteers Honored through 2010 Governor’s Cup
On October 12, Governor Quinn announced 26 projects as 2010 Governor’s Home Town Award recipients. The awards recognize the contributions of thousands of Illinois’ volunteers for their hard work and dedication towards improving their communities. The Governor’s Cup is a traveling silver trophy presented to the community whose efforts were deemed most representative of Illinois’ spirit of volunteerism. Each of the award-winning communities receives a road sign and plaque recognizing its efforts.
Lily Ledbetter Day
On October 14, Governor Quinn proclaimed Lily Ledbetter Day in Illinois in recognition of Ms. Ledbetter’s efforts in fighting gender-pay discrimination. Towards the end of her 20 year tenure at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Plant, Ms. Ledbetter discovered that she was paid less than her male counterparts, which had cost her lost wages and lowered retirement earnings. She filed a pay discrimination suit in federal court, but it was eventually overturned by the United States Supreme Court. After a passionate fight to raise awareness about equal pay for equal work, President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law in 2009 and in August 2009, Governor Quinn expanded protections under Illinois’ Equal Pay Act by extending the time period for individuals to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor and the statute of limitations for individuals to sue for back pay in state court.
150 High-Tech Infrastructure Jobs
On October 14, Governor Quinn was joined by state and local leaders from 23 downstate counties to announce a $45.4 million investment in high-speed fiber optic broadband infrastructure. Partially-funded through the Illinois Jobs Now! Capital Program and a $31.5 million competitive federal grant, the project will create 157 jobs. Illinois has received nearly $245 million in federal funding this year to connect thousands of homes and institutions and create more than 3,000 jobs.
155 Aviation Jobs
On September 25, Governor Quinn was joined by state and local officials to announce a $5.4 million investment in the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport. The mix of federal, state and local funding will help support ongoing work on a new terminal and other major improvements. This project is expected to create 155 jobs.
Health Care Reform Public Meetings
On October 5 and 20, the Illinois Health Care Reform Implementation Council held public hearings in Peoria and Carbondale. Governor Quinn has given the Council the responsibility of protecting consumers from unwarranted insurance premium hikes and providing affordable health insurance to more than one million additional Illinois residents. Constituents are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions at the next public meeting which will be held in Springfield on November 16th, from 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM at the Howlett Building Auditorium located on 501 S. 2nd St. Please note that you must have a photo ID to enter the building. In addition to attending the council’s meetings, members of the public can find more information and submit comments by visiting HealthCareReform.Illinois.gov.