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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Thanks in Advance
On November 18, Governor Pat Quinn launched an Internet grassroots campaign to increase public awareness about the need for pension reform in Illinois. Illinois' unfunded liability recently grew to $96 billion, the worst in the nation. The "Thanks in Advance" public awareness campaign is designed to educate all residents about the "squeeze" caused by skyrocketing pension costs, encourage advocacy for pension reform using tech tools like Facebook, Twitter and email along with the first “Thanks in Advance” video added on YouTube. Illinoisans can visit ThisisMyIllinois.com to learn about Illinois’ pension crisis and make their voices heard through social media as supporters of pension reform. "Thanks in Advance" aims to build public awareness about the need for legislative action on pension reform in Springfield and empower citizens to make their voices heard. Veto session begins November 27 and the legislature is scheduled to work January 3 - 8. For more information about this initiative, visit ThisisMyIllinois.com.
While the winter of 2011-12 brought warmer temperatures and little snow, history suggests this is an exception not the rule to Illinois winters. Freezing temperatures, snow and ice are expected this winter, so the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) are encouraging people to begin preparing now for possible hazards. IEMA and the NWS are highlighting winter storm preparedness throughout November as part of their annual Winter Storm Preparedness campaign. A winter storm preparedness guide developed by IEMA, the NWS and the American Red Cross covers winter weather terms and tips for staying safe at home, in the car and at work or school. The guide and more information about winter storm preparedness are available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.
Illinois Joining Forces
On November 9, Governor Pat Quinn was joined by Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Borggren, Maj. Gen. Dennis L. Celletti, acting Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, and more than 250 veterans to launch Illinois Joining Forces (IJF), a new statewide public-private partnership that will improve support for servicemembers, Veterans, and their families. This partnership is the latest effort by Governor Quinn to support our troops and military families. Through IJF, participating organizations will work together to address gaps in job training and placement, healthcare, education and housing. By actively referring veterans and service members in need of assistance, as well as offering better navigation of available resources and service to the public, veterans and their families will be better served as they return home. The new collaborative online platform, www.IllinoisJoiningForces.org, will help IJF members share information, collaborate on projects and facilitate referrals.
Calling All Volunteers
The Serve Illinois Commission sponsors www.Serve.Illinois.gov, where you can find a volunteer opportunity. www.Serve.Illinois.gov currently hosts over 100,000 volunteer opportunities throughout the state. Serve Illinois strives to increase awareness and the importance of traditional volunteerism to the citizens of Illinois. Serve Illinois provides assistance to volunteers, volunteer organizations, government agencies, and the public at large through a variety of activities, including: promoting national service days, enhancing volunteerism and service through awards and other recognition opportunities, providing individuals and organizations with information, assisting in the training and professional development of Illinois' volunteer managers, and co-sponsoring training throughout the state. For more information on AmeriCorps or Serve Illinois, please visit www.Serve.Illinois.gov or call 800-592-9896.
Operation Support Our Troops
On November 9, Governor Quinn announced the 2012 Operation Support Our Troops-America (OSOT) Care Package Drive. OSOT Is partnering with all Chicagoland Midas locations, which will serve as official drop zones for items needed for the Care and Comfort Package Program. OSOT sends packages to deployed servicemembers, supporting their wellbeing and improving morale of American forces by providing comfort, resources and education to them and their families both while they are deployed and after their return. For more information about Operation Support our Troops – America and other programs for Illinois veterans and service members, visit www.OSOTAmerica.org and www.OperationHomefront.org.
Welcome Home Heroes
On November 12,Veterans Day, Governor Pat Quinn announced the investment of an additional $5 million to the Welcome Home Heroes homebuyer financing package to make homeownership more affordable for more military families. This new Illinois Jobs Now! capital funding will allow an additional 500 military families to access a $10,000 forgivable grant toward the purchase of a new home, as well as a mortgage tax credit worth up to $20,000 over the life of the loan. Since Governor Quinn launched the financing package last December, Welcome Home Heroes has helped more than 550 military families achieve their dream of buying a home. Welcome Home Heroes was originally funded through $5 million in Illinois Jobs Now! capital funding and the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund. A list of participating lenders throughout the state is available at ihda.org/homeowner/heroes. For more information about programs for Illinois veterans and servicemembers, visit OperationHomefront.org.
Illinois Clean Water Initiative
On November 15, 2012, Governor Pat Quinn highlighted his recently announced $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative in an address at the 2012 American Water Summit. This initiative is part of the governor’s agenda to create jobs and drive economic growth while purifying and preserving this critical natural resource. The Clean Water Initiative will allow the state to meet the high demand by local governments for safe drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure funding. To learn more about the Illinois Clean Water Initiative, visit CleanWater.Illinois.gov.
On November 20, Governor Pat Quinn and Senate President John Cullerton were joined by state and local leaders and the Illinois Highway Safety Coalition (HSC) to announce their support of efforts to ensure that every Illinois motorist is properly licensed to drive. Because they do not have a driver’s license, an estimated 250,000 immigrant motorists are on Illinois roads today that have not passed a driving test. By removing this barrier through responsible legislation, Illinois roads will be safer and more immigrants will be enabled to contribute to our economy. For more information about the Highway Safety Coalition and to see the list of lawmakers, business, faith, labor and community groups who support this common sense measure, visit HighwaySafetyCoalition.org.
UWI Home Energy Auditor & Weatherization Specialist Training Grant Programs
The Office of Urban Assistance has announced the release of Training Grant Applications for the Home Energy Auditor and the Weatherization Specialist Training Programs. The purpose of both training programs is to provide individuals the required skills to receive nationally accredited certification from the Building Performance Institute (BPI), enabling them to work in the high-growth green job sector. Deadline to apply for both training programs is December 19, 2012 by 12:00 noon. For questions regarding the Home Energy Auditor Training Program, please contact 312-814-3486. For questions regarding the Weatherization Trainign program, please contact 312-814-6872 or visit: www.ildceo.net/urbanweatherization.