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.
Free Tax Preparation for Veterans
The Military Service Tax Preparation Project will once again offer free personal income tax return filing assistance to members of the US Armed Forces who have recently returned or are still serving on active duty in a combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area. The Illinois CPA Society, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), will match military personnel and/or their family members with CPA volunteers in their area. Spouses or family members can request assistance for those currently overseas. For more information, visit http://www.icpas.org/militarytaxrequest/.
Filing Your Illinois Taxes
On January 20, The Illinois Department of Revenue (DOR) published the January 2012 Informational Bulletin, informing taxpayers of changes made to the 2012 tax season forms. DOR is also reminding Illinois citizens that the deadline for filing 2011 taxes has been extended to April 17. The usual April 15 deadline has been pushed back to match the Federal filing deadline. For more information on the tax return deadline, visit tax.illinois.gov.
100 Jobs created in Pekin
On January 17, Governor Pat Quinn announced that Pekin’s Excel Foundry & Machine will receive more than $1 million in funding from Illinois’ Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credits which will add 100 new jobs over the next two years. Matched with Excel’s $7.4 million investment, the company will expand by building a new warehouse. The tax credits are based on job creation and skill enhancement through the Employer Training Incentive Program. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (DOT) are also working with Tazwell County to help improve Excel’s expansion through infrastructure and improved roadways.
Volunteer Service Awards Nominations
Nominations are now being accepted for the Third Annual Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards for the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. Individual awards will be presented to one youth (18 and under), one adult (19-54) and one retiree/senior (55 and older) in the five service regions of Illinois- Northeast, Northwest, East Central, West Central and Southern. National Service Awards will be presented to one Learn and Serve, one AmeriCorps and one Senior Corps member in each of the five regions. Successful nominees will have served in one of the following five categories: Economic Opportunity, Education, Environmental Conservation, Disaster Preparedness/Response, Health and Veteran Affairs. Nominations are due by February 29, 2012 and award recipients will be selected and notified by March 30, 2012. For more information, visit www.serve.illinois.gov.
Local Food, Local Farmers
Illinois is increasing markets for local foods. By creating “food hubs,” or processing and distribution centers where independent, local farmers can market their products to larger entities (schools, government agencies), making locally-grown food more widely available. To help meet food demand, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has partnered with the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA), FamilyFarmed.org, and the University of Illinois’ Business Innovation Services to create a guidebook, “Building Successful Food Hubs: A Business Planning Guide for Aggregating and Processing Local Food in Illinois.” The guidebook will serve as a resource on how to establish food hubs. DCEO has already invested in several early food hub projects around Illinois. DCEO Director Ribley also announced a new website to help farmers find the way to larger market channels. For more information about the website, please visit http://isupply.illinois.edu/. The guidebook is also available to download for free at www.FamilyFarmed.org.
South African Trade Efforts
On January 4, Governor Quinn announced that Illinois civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson would represent Illinois at the 100th anniversary of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa. South Africa is the top importer of Illinois products in the African region, accounting for a total of $613 million in 2010. Through the third quarter of 2011, exports to South Africa were up an additional 53 percent. This growth is due to an increase in Illinois machinery exports to support South Africa’s growing mining industry which includes cobalt, chromium, and platinum. This trade effort marks another step in Governor Quinn’s efforts to double the economy and boost Illinois exports by 2014.
Rockford Multi-modal Station
On January 17, Governor Quinn announced a $3 million investment to develop a new multi-modal station in Rockford. This funding, combined with $60 million allocated to construct the Chicago-Rockford-Dubuque rail corridor from Illinois Jobs Now! capital funding, will support nearly 700 jobs.
Western Illinois University Expansion
On January 12, Governor Quinn and Western Illinois University (WIU) President Jack Thomas unveiled the $18.4 million “Building One” at WIU’s Riverfront Campus in Moline, IL. This facility will house WIU’s undergraduate programs in the Quad Cities. Along with opening “Building One,” Governor Quinn announced the release of an additional $38 million in state capital funds for Phase II of the Moline campus expansion plan. This development is expected to create hundreds of jobs and triple university enrollment when complete. WIU-Quad Cities is the only public university in northwestern Illinois and the expansion is expected to raise the annual income to $50 million and double the number of graduates to 500 students each year.
Local Infrastructure Projects for Rural Communities
On January 18, Governor Quinn announced that Illinois was awarded nearly $19 million in federal funding to address the needs of 59 small and rural communities throughout the State. The Community Development Assistance program (CDAP) funding will be used to make infrastructure improvements (water and sewer lines, water mains, upgrading storm water systems, repairing sewer lines) in the communities. The full list of Illinois communities receiving 2011 CDAP-Public Infrastructure funding can be found at http://www.ildceo.net/dceo.
On January 10, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Waren Ribley announced that capital funding will be given to ten organizations who will train nearly 700 weatherization specialists across the state. This is the first phase of a multiple year green jobs initiative. The program reiterates Governor Quinn’s dedication to green initiatives by increasing jobs in Illinois. For more information about this program please visit www.ildceo.net.
Tax Credit for Low-Income Workers
On January 10, Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 400, which will double the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) over the next two years for low-income workers. This will provide the largest increase in Illinois’ EITC since its inception 2000 by phasing in a 5 percent increase over two years, and will put more money in the pockets of working families and stimulate the local economy. More than 2.5 million state residents benefitted from the Illinois EITC in the 2010 tax year. For more information on the EITC visit the Department of Revenue website at www.revenue.state.il.us.
Relief for Storm Victims
On January 9, Governor Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced $7.7 million investment for Illinois communities that were affected by last year’s storms. The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) funds will be used to repair roads and bridges damaged by the storms.
On January 4, The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) announced the start of its 2012 Preparedness Campaign by focusing on emergency preparedness for people with functional and access needs. The agency will focus n a different topic each month in order to increase disaster preparedness in Illinois. Emergency Preparedness Tips for Those with Functional Needs is a guidebook available on the Ready Illinois website. For more information, please visit ready.illinois.gov.
State Bond Sale
On January 11, The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget announced that the State of Illinois sold $525 million of tax exempt General Obligation Bonds and $275 million of taxable General Obligation Bonds. These bonds sales provide funding for Illinois Jobs Now! Capital plan, signed into law by Governor Quinn in order to strengthen the state’s economy by creating and retaining more than 439,000 jobs over six years. The successful bond sales indicate that investors have strong confidence in Illinois’ steps to correct decades of fiscal mismanagement and understand that the correct steps are being taken to reform pensions and control skyrocketing Medicaid costs. For more information please visit the website www.illinois.gov/jobsnow.
IEPA Permit Process Now Faster and More Transparent
On January 13, Governor Quinn announced a new Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) online portal that will make the environmental permitting process more user friendly by eliminating red tape for businesses. The new portal will increase transparency by allowing interested parties to track the progress of the Agency’s decision-making process and maintain Illinois’ strong commitment to the environment. The improvements in the permitting process were developed in coordination with the Illinois business community with the goal of making compliance more accessible. More information on the portal can be found at www.epa.state.il.us.
Local Veterans Groups Receive Grants
The Illinois Lottery’s Veterans Cash scratch-off game has awarded nearly $10 million to help Illinois nonprofits deliver supportive programs to local veterans, announced the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA). 100% of the proceeds from each scratch off ticket are dedicated to support Illinois veterans. IDVA’s Veterans Cash Grant Committee awards grants to help veterans address post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), homelessness, health insurance cost, long-term care, and disability benefits. To apply for a grant please visit https://www2.illinois.gov/veterans/programs website. For more information about IDVA and its programs please visit www2.illinois.gov/veterans.