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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On October 12, Governor Quinn visited Irving Elementary School to promote the 2012-2013 Illinois School Breakfast Challenge. Studies show that children who attend school hungry have trouble focusing in class and experience problems completing schoolwork. Studies also reveal that schools that serve breakfast have decreased or eliminated child hunger, helping students succeed in classrooms. The Illinois School Breakfast Challenge encourages schools to help prevent children from attending school hungry to improve student performance and outcomes. To promote the challenge, schools with the largest increases in breakfast participation will receive awards. For more information visit their website.
Foreclosure Prevention Network
On October 13, Governor Quinn met with homeowners seeking help from foreclosure and outlined the progress of his Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network (IFPN). The network has supported thousands of families across the state to stay in their homes. By contacting the IFPN, Illinois homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments get the assistance and information they need to avoid foreclosure. Most importantly, it offers homeowners a safe and trusted source for assistance so they are not deceived by mortgage rescue scams.
Illinois residents who are having trouble paying their mortgage, facing foreclosure, or know someone who is, should call the IFPN hotline at 855-KEEP-411 (855-5337-411) or visit www.keepyourhomeillinois.org.
Protecting Pets in Disasters
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) included pet preparedness as part of its 2012 Preparedness Campaign. IEMA encourages pet owners to take additional steps when planning for disasters to ensure the safety of their animals. The agency suggests a pet preparedness kit with a three-day supply of food and water, extra pet medicines, a pet photos, along with toys or treats to lessen the pets’ stress. For more information about planning for emergencies and natural disasters, visit www.Ready.Illinois.gov.
On October 1, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) reopened the College Illinois! 529 Prepaid Tuition plan, a way for families to avoid tuition inflation and increasing student loan debt by prepaying for college. College Illinois! will offer Illinois families contracts at 2011 rates until December 31, 2012. This extension is a result of Governor Quinn‘s action on House Bill 3923, which requires transparency in ISAC investment decision-making. For more information about ISAC’s College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program, visit www.529prepaidtuition.org or call at 877-877-3724.
Illinois’ film industry produced a record number of TV series in 2012. This positions Illinois as an attractive alternative to Hollywood and spurs job growth. Four TV drama series were filmed in Illinois this past year, including NBC’s Chicago Fire, Fox’s Mob Doctor, Starz’s Boss, and MTV’s Underemployed. USA Network’s Sirens is scheduled to begin shooting in late October. Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, which houses Chicago Fire, Underemployment, Boss, and Sirens, opened in 2011 and was supported by $5 million in capital construction funding through the Illinois Jobs Now! program.
On October 2, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) received nearly $634,000 through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. IDOA will split the funds among 12 projects intended to expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce. Some of Illinois’ top specialty crops include pumpkins, horseradish, asparagus, cauliflower, green peas, and lima beans. Illinois is home to more than 117,000 acres of farmland to growing specialty crops, which produce nearly $137 million in sales for Illinois farmers. For more information, visit www.agr.state.il.us.
Open Technology Challenge
On October 20, Governor Pat Quinn announced the Illinois Open Technology Challenge, a major accountability and transparency initiative to help local governments expand the amount of data available to the public. This pilot initiative will make Illinois’ open data platform available to municipal governments statewide. It will promote the availability of public data and encourage the use of technology to address government challenges through innovation and entrepreneurship. For more information on the Illinois Open Technology Challenge, including competition rules, submission requirements, and ways to engage, visit www.illinoisopentech.org.