Wednesday, January 27, 2010
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today made the following statement after learning of Ford’s plan to hire 1,200 employees at the Chicago Assembly Plant in anticipation of increasing consumer demand for fuel-efficient cars. Ford plans to invest nearly $400 million in its Chicago plants to launch the production of the next-generation Explorer SUV, which feature fuel economy gains of at least 25% over the current model.
“More new, fuel-efficient cars are being purchased in Illinois and around the country. As a result, local dealerships are seeing increased demand and autoworkers are going back to work. I commend Ford’s decision to respond to consumer demand by increasing production and creating good paying jobs at the Chicago facility.”
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
In keeping their pledge to Illinois residents to continue to push true campaign finance reform, Illinois House Republican Leader Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and his members support a bill that would impose campaign contribution limits on legislative leaders’ caucus committees and political parties in the general election.
“The current law puts contribution limits on everyone EXCEPT the four legislative leaders and political parties in the general election. That is not fair—we must apply the rules to everyone,” said Cross. “We could not support the bill that passed last year because it only imposed these limits in primary elections. This new bill closes the gaping loophole that was created by that law.”
“Simply put, unlimited money means unlimited power in the hands of a few individuals. That’s business as usual in Illinois, and it’s unacceptable,” said Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington). “The legislation we’re introducing today does what the bill signed into law last year should have done, impose reasonable caps across the board in the General Election. This will be a big step in putting power back into the hands of individual voters.”
Senate Republicans are also in favor of this improvement to the current law.
“The Democrat majorities and the Governor failed to capitalize on a unique opportunity to pass meaningful campaign finance reform. By not capping contributions limits for legislative leaders and political parties during the General Election, their measure will have limited impact. We now have an opportunity to right that wrong and enact true campaign finance reform,” Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said.
House Bill 5008 will extend the varied campaign contribution limitations that were created in Senate Bill 1466 (P.A. 96-832) to the general election. The current limitations on legislative leaders and political parties will only apply during the primary elections starting in 2011.
“This should be a no-brainer if we want to curb the influence of the leaders in Illinois,” said Cross. “The majority of money is spent in general elections. According to our analysis in the 2008 election cycle—the Democratic Party of Illinois spent 40 times more in the general election compared to what it spent in the primary.”
“Everyone who voted to pass the bill to impose these limits in primary elections should have no problem voting to impose the exact same limits in general elections,” added Rep. Rich Brauer (R-Petersburg).
Durbin, Biggert to Host Wednesday Meeting of Great Lakes Leaders to Chart Path Forward on Asian Carp Containment
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL) today announced that they have called a meeting of House and Senate leaders from states surrounding the Great Lakes to chart a path forward in the effort to contain Asian carp in Illinois. The meeting – to be held on Wednesday, January 27 at 9:00 AM ET in Room 215 of the Senate Visitors Center – will be attended by both Assistant Secretary of the Army, Jo-Ellen Darcy, who oversees the Army Corps of Engineers and Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency for Great Lakes issues.
“In the coming weeks, the White House Council on Environmental Quality will meet with Midwestern governors to discuss the Asian carp issue. It’s now time to bring members of Congress representing the Great Lakes states together in advance of that meeting to discuss a path forward,” said Durbin. “We must all work together – governors, Congress and the Administration – to find a solution that will protect our lakes, while preserving jobs and promoting economic activity in the region.”
“Illinois has been leading the charge to contain these invasive species from day one, but the Asian carp are a very real threat to every state, region, and locality that shares our concern about the Great Lakes,” said Biggert. “Working together, I am confident that we can stop these carp and preserve all the environmental and economic treasures afforded to us by the Great Lakes. I’m pleased to join Senator Durbin in bringing together lawmakers from across the region to examine the latest evidence of the carp’s movement, discuss the steps we’ve already taken, and urge our colleagues to join us in pressing ahead with sound solutions based on the best science available.”
On January 12, Durbin and Biggert hosted a briefing by federal, state and local officials at the Shedd Aquarium regarding the containment of Asian carp in Illinois. Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the City of Chicago, the Office of the Attorney General, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources all provided perspectives on the current situation, further mitigation options, and likely next steps.
If the carp reach Lake Michigan, they have the potential to damage the economy and ecosystem of the Great Lakes region, where the fishing industry alone is valued at $7 billion annually. Yet the community and economic implications of closing the locks of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal must be considered. The shipping industry used the canal to move nearly 7 million tons of cargo in 2008 through the O’Brien and Chicago locks, and the Army Corps estimates that closing the O’Brien lock alone would back-flood 14,000 homes.
Durbin and Biggert have a long history of working together to combat the spread of Asian carp, and from FY2003 through FY2010 they have secured more than $25 million in federal funding to contain the invasive species, and to keep it from entering Lake Michigan. State and federal agencies have already spent millions of dollars to contain the fish, particularly through the electric Asian Carp Barrier project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Since 1998, the barrier project has received $41.2 million in federal funding. The Obama administration recently launched a $475 million comprehensive Great Lakes initiative which provides a regional approach to controlling invasive species, reducing non-point-source pollution, and cleaning up contaminated sediment.
In the fall of 2009, Asian carp genetic material was found in regular water testing of the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal. Genetic material has also been found both in the Calumet River near Wilmette and in Lake Michigan. Through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the State of Illinois, in collaboration with the relevant federal agencies, took an unprecedented $700,000 effort and applied Rotenone to six miles of the Canal to kill any Asian carp near the barrier. In addition to finding positive eDNA in the Canal, genetic material was also found in the Des Plaines River, north of the electric dispersal barrier.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Elmhurst, Ill- Adam Andrzejewski, Republican candidate for governor, today released the following statement in response to DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom's decision to withdraw from the governor's race:
"Over the course of the last few months, I have come to appreciate the energy Bob Schillerstom has brought to the Governor's campaign. I did not agree with all of Bob's positions, but he raised issues that made the race for Governor a better contest.
While I don't think Bob's endorsement of Jim Ryan reflects the best choice for Illinois, his experience with the Illinois Republican establishment makes his endorsement as good a fit for him as any of the other 5 remaining establishment candidates in the race.
We may see more deals and negotiations among the establishment candidates as this race comes to a close, but Illinois voters can rest assured that I will be there to provide them with the choice of a clean, non-establishment conservative.
LISLE, Ill- State Senator Kirk Dillard, Republican candidate for governor, today released the following statement in response to DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom’s decision to withdraw from the governor’s race:
“I have enjoyed working with Chairman Schillerstrom in the past as the former Republican Chairman and a current State Senator in DuPage County. I look forward to continuing to work with him in the future to balance the budget, bring jobs to Illinois and clean up Springfield.”
Senator Bill Brady, Republican candidate for Governor, released the following statement today:
“Bob Schillerstrom’s endorsement of Jim Ryan today is as predictable as the dead voting in Chicago. It was inevitable he would throw his support behind either Jim Ryan or Kirk Dillard. Anything to stop real reform.
“Schillerstrom tells us Jim Ryan will be ‘an advocate for the taxpayer, questioning the status quo in state government and fighting to bring real change to Springfield culture.’
“In fact, Ryan and Schillerstrom cut a deal with Chicago interests in 2007 to impose a sales tax increase on voters in DuPage. Jim Ryan actually headed up the Schillerstrom’s pro-tax committee (“DuPage tax supporters ready for month-long blitz,” Daily Herald, 1/6/08). It’s worth noting that Kirk Dillard voted for that increase in the Senate, one of only three Republicans to do so. I voted against it.
“Jim Ryan also called for billions of dollars in income tax increases as he sat on the board of a leftwing think tank, with the SEIU union and other liberal groups. Jim’s $800,000 relationship with Stu Levine hardly speaks of real change. And his mishandling of the Nicarico case, in addition to being an enormous tragedy, cost Bob Schillerstrom’s County millions of dollars in legal settlements.
“Bob and Jim are on opposite ends of key issues such as capital punishment, the Second Amendment rights and abortion. But what matters, apparently, is they are both part of the insider crowd.
“It is doubly ironic that Bob Schillerstrom signed the no-new-tax pledge but is now endorsing one of two candidates who didn’t. Kirk Dillard – no surprise – is the other one. Bob and Jim are the ‘taxing tag team,’ and with Kirk Dillard, it makes three.”
“Talk about a ****storm!”
(Chicago, Illinois) — In response to the announcement that Bob Schillerstrom is dropping out of the race for governor and endorsing Jim Ryan, conservative Republican candidate for governor Dan Proft released the following statement:
I want to congratulate Bob Schillerstrom for running a spirited, policy-oriented campaign.
He was a worthy adversary and is a class individual.
However, his support of Jim Ryan serves only to crystallize the choice for Republican primary voters on February 2nd. Are we going to turn back the clock or are we finally going to usher in a new generation of forward-looking leadership for our party and our state?
Are we going to propose a more orderly going-out-of-business sale for our state or take up the cause of bringing policy revolution to state government?
Will fear lead us to tolerate the status quo or will we muster the courage to advance the candidate who will turn Springfield upside down?
Chris Christie in New Jersey. Scott Brown in Massachusetts.
Who will lead the revolution in Illinois?
Jim Ryan? He is a fine man but, please, be serious.
If you want policy revolution in Illinois, Dan Proft is your candidate for Governor.
Nearly seven months ago we launched this campaign with a promise to dramatically change the quick-fix, reactionary approach to state government that has saddled Illinois with an $11 billion deficit, double-digit unemployment and a well-earned national reputation for corruption. We sought to remind taxpayers that they don't have to settle for Springfield dysfunction – that there is a better way.
It has been my pleasure to work with you in the time since to spread that message across our state. Together we have sounded the call for new leadership – for an end to runaway spending and threatened tax hikes, for a new approach to recruiting employers and good jobs to Illinois, and for the transformation of a Springfield culture that has put us in this predicament. In the process we have introduced critical reforms that would revolutionize state government – things like zero-based budgeting, 72-Hour online public review of all spending legislation, and term limits for all state leaders. We have made a difference.
But as Election Day nears, it is clear that we lack the financial resources necessary to communicate with voters statewide and win the February 2 Primary. Given that reality, I have decided to end our campaign for Governor. This decision was not made lightly, and was particularly difficult given the incredible investment that so many have made in our campaign. Words cannot express how grateful and humbled I am by the work of our volunteers, staff and supporters. And I would be remiss if I did not publically thank my wife of 25 years, Marybeth, and our three children for their unwavering support from day one.
Today is the end of our campaign for Governor, but it does not lessen the urgency in bringing new leadership and a different approach to Springfield. And that is why today I also announce my endorsement of the candidate who I believe will best lead our state in taking on unprecedented challenges, Jim Ryan.
In a political arena where individuals are only as good as their word, Jim Ryan stands out as a man of integrity. He is tested. He is honest. I've known Jim Ryan for nearly 30 years and I've seen him deal with difficult challenges whether they were personal, political or professional...
He will serve as an advocate for the taxpayer, questioning the status quo in state government and fighting to bring real change to Springfield culture. I encourage Republicans to vote for him on Feb. 2, and again in November...
Illinois can do better – and working together, we'll see that it does.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to overturn a ban on corporate spending on political campaigns.
“Today’s decision by Supreme Court is a triumph for special interest and judicial activism at its worst. Overturning the ban on corporate spending on political campaigns opens the floodgates for the corrupting influence and the dominant hand of special interest groups.”
“At a time when the American people have ample reason to be wary of powerful corporations focused on a selfish agenda, this decision will only fuel feelings of cynicism and distrust in our system. The power of large corporations and special interests is already immense; this decision will put overwhelming pressure on elected officials to bend even more in the direction of Big Business.”
“We must now create a system where we finance campaigns fairly. It is the only way can ensure that our candidates and elected officials focus on addressing the nation’s problems and not on the limited interests of the wealthy and powerful few.”
Durbin is the author of the Fair Elections Now Act – a bill which would create a voluntary system that gives candidates the option to finance their campaigns with small dollar donations plus matching contributions from the Fair Elections Fund.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the Department of Labor (DOL) has awarded a $6,000,000 State Energy Partnership and Training grant to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Today’s funding will be used to implement projects such as the Greater Rockford Solar Initiative and the Chicago Green Jobs for All Initiative, both of which provide green job training and certification.
“Creating good-paying jobs and promoting a clean energy future are two main goals of the Recovery Act,” said Durbin. “This funding will make a significant investment in the effort to reduce the carbon footprint of residents and businesses in Illinois while bringing an estimated 3,000 workers into a new industry that will drive our economy in the years to come.”
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity plans to use this funding to train and place an estimated 1,310 workers in energy efficient occupations, as well as aid approximately 1,700 workers in earning industry-recognized degrees. Earlier today the DOL announced 34 grants nationwide ranging from $2 million to $6 million each. A total of $440 million in Green Job grant funding has been made available by the DOL over the last month. State Energy Partnership and Training grants are designed to teach workers the skills required in emerging industries such as energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Statement from Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady on Scott Brown's Victory in the Massachusetts Senate Special Election
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady made the following statement today:
"Today, the citizens of Massachusetts repudiated the first year of President Obama's term by electing their first Republican Senator since 1972. Republicans, Independents and even a substantial segment of Democrat voters turned out to soundly reject the Obama Administration's uncontrolled spending and attempt to nationalize healthcare. Tonight's victory for Republicans reflects a trend that started last November in New Jersey and Virginia. Republicans won Governor's races in these two states, which were won by President Obama in 2008. Since the Democrats took control of Washington last January, Republicans have won 27 of 36 special elections, including gaining a majority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court."
"Illinois is next. Like Massachusetts, Illinois is under control of the single-party rule Democrats who have had unbridled control of the State of Illinois for the last eight years and have brought us to the brink of financial collapse. The eyes of the nation will be upon Illinois as we seek to regain the United States Senate seat formerly held by President Obama and retake the Governor’s mansion."
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig announced today that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) made exceptional progress in 2009 in a statewide effort to become a more sustainable agency.
Among the list of accomplishments, Illinois Department of Transportation received the Green Government Award in December from the Illinois Green Government Coordinating Council during the Annual Sustainable Symposium held in Springfield. The award was in the Sustainable Transportation category.
“We are pleased to have received this award,” said Secretary Hannig. “We work hard each day to ensure our construction projects adhere to the highest environmental standards, while maintaining the safety and effectiveness of our roads. Our efforts to improve construction methods, promote fuel conservation and enhance green practices all are a part of our overall effort to build a cleaner, greener Illinois.”
The award was presented by Governor Pat Quinn’s Director of Sustainability, Kate Tomford. Accepting the award at the Sustainable Symposium were IDOT’s Director of Finance and Administration, Ann Schneider, and IDOT’s Acting Sustainable Practices Manager, Steve Massey.
The award was based on several practices and efforts that IDOT initiated. One of the strides that IDOT made was creating a more environmentally friendly vehicle fleet. The fleet includes 741 alternative vehicles, 36 gas/electric hybrids and one E85/electric. The diesel fleet is now 100 percent capable of burning biodiesel fuel.
IDOT also was recognized for a recent project on the Bishop Ford Expressway in Chicago (I-94). This project utilized recycled shingles that made up approximately 5 percent of the 22,000 tons of mix used for the roadway surface materials.
Secretary Hannig created the position of IDOT Sustainable Practices Manager to identify sustainability and resource savings opportunities. The position also makes policy recommendations to executive staff and works closely with the long-term planning staff on sustainability issues.
IDOT was recognized for the greening of rest areas and welcome centers by installing rain barrels at some locations. The rain barrels were made by Illinois Correctional Industries. The use of green cleaning products at these areas also has begun.
The award highlighted IDOT’s efforts to promote the use of PrePass. IDOT partnered with the Secretary of State’s office to get the word to truckers about the PrePass system. PrePass enrolls carriers and collects required data and safety ratings to automatically determine the carrier fee to weigh stations. About one mile from the weigh station, the PrePass reader identifies the transponder in the windshield of the truck and transmits the data to the computer site. If all data is acceptable, the carrier gets a green light signaling approval to bypass. If the carrier gets a red light, truckers must enter the weigh station. PrePass in Illinois has reduced emissions by decreasing greenhouse gases, saving fuel and increasing efficiency and safety.
IDOT in the fall initiated and worked closely with the Department of Natural Resources to develop the Illinois Fallen Soldier Tree Memorial in Illini State Park in Marseilles, which was dedicated on November 10, 2009. The tree memorial has 250 oak trees planted on 2.5 acres of land in the park. A natural granite monument stone weighing about 7 tons was added to the site with a bronze memorial plaque memorializing Illinois soldiers killed since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. A five-car parking lot and memorial with handicap accessibility was built and natural limestone benches were placed in the memorial park area.
The Illinois Green Government Coordinating Council has members from 15 state agencies and was created to improve sustainable practices under the Green Governments Illinois Act. The council annually presents awards to state agencies that have shown an exceptional commitment to improving the environmental quality of Illinois.
For more information on Illinois’ green initiatives, visit www.green.illinois.gov.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Senator Bill Brady, Republican candidate for Governor, said today he will promote Illinois agriculture as the state’s next Governor and work to ease state policies and regulations that put Illinois farmers and agri-businesses at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states.
“Agriculture is the largest industry in Illinois, accounting for about 25 percent of the state’s economic activity,” Brady said. “My administration will make sure that Illinois agriculture does not lose any more ground to other farm states. I want to see the anti-agricultural and anti-business policies of the Democrat administrations in Springfield turned around so that Illinois agriculture grows and thrives along with our rural communities.”
The only Downstate candidate for Governor, Brady unveiled his agricultural policy during a visit to Progressive Farm Products Inc. in Hudson.
Brady said he supports:
- Eliminating the state estate tax penalty that puts family farms at risk and eliminating the state sales tax on gasoline that unnecessarily costs Illinois families and businesses.
- Reducing bureaucratic regulations, red tape and inefficiency that delay investments in agricultural-related business start-ups, such as ethanol plants. He said approval of necessary state permits has taken more than a year in instances, where the permitting process in other states is accomplished in 150 days or less.
- Rebuilding a professional Illinois Department of Agriculture, including prioritizing and restoring program funding, which has been cut by as much as 70 percent.
- Reducing anti-business taxes and fees to encourage greater business investment in Illinois and create new private sector jobs.
“Unlike other companies, farmers cannot move their farms across the border to Indiana or Iowa to survive,” said Brady. “They are faced with either suffering the high costs of living and doing business in Illinois or selling their farms.”
“I will work with the agriculture community to promote Illinois agriculture and Illinois-made agricultural products, whether it is large farm equipment or home-grown honey,” he said. “We have a rich agricultural heritage and the potential for an even richer agricultural future.”
Brady, of Bloomington, is the only candidate for Governor with both legislative and business experience.
He was joined at the announcement today by members of Farmers for Brady.
Former Congressman Tom Ewing of Pontiac is the honorary chairman of the advisory board. Chairmen are William J. Graff, a farmer from Logan County and former state executive director of the Illinois Farm Service Agency USDA, and George W. Obernagel III, a partner in a multi-state family farm operation from Monroe County and a retired executive and farm manager with banks in Belleville.
Friday, January 15, 2010
The devastation in Haiti has affected one-third of their population. Communication has been poor and infrastructure and internal aid services have been decimated by the disaster. We are slowly beginning to get a real sense of the extent of the destruction. Thousands of medical personnel from the United States have volunteered to provide assistance to the area.
Illinois Nurses Association (INA) encourages anyone interested in becoming a first responder to pre-register with one of the many disaster registries and response organizations that already exist. These groups ensure that volunteers will have access to training and will be utilized according to the appropriate response plans.
Pamela Robbins, President of Illinois Nurses Association states, “We encourage all Illinois nurses to make a contribution to the Haitian relief effort.” Nurses wishing to make donations should contact legitimate relief charities.
The following is a sampling of legitimate relief charities where donations can be made directly:
American Red Cross
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Last year this state faced historic challenges. We had impeachment trial of the former Governor, a historic drop in revenues, record deficits, and significant job loss in the state. But last year was also a year of tremendous accomplishment in ethics, bipartisanship and capital.
I pledged to do everything I could to pass a comprehensive jobs bill for Illinois. Senate Democrats led the way on stabilizing the economy by drafting and passing the first capital construction bill in a decade. This session we will continue the effort to stabilize the economy by creating jobs and growing businesses.
During the past several months, my caucus has met with frontline economic development professionals to create a proactive economic agenda for Illinois. In the next 30 days, Senate Democrats will unveil a comprehensive set of initiatives to invest in the people of Illinois, build upon our economic strengths, and protect the pocketbooks of taxpayers.
We are going to invest in the people of Illinois
- Illinois must help small businesses through tax incentives to keeping and creating jobs.
- We will invest in Community Colleges to help Illinois workers gain new skills and training.
- Illinois must find innovative ways to help families pay their bills and stay in their homes.
We are going to build upon our economic strengths
- We must modernize job creation tools for Illinois communities.
- Illinois should reduce fees so businesses can keep and create jobs.
- We must promote key industries to grown our economy and create jobs.
We are going to protect the pocketbooks of taxpayers
- We must stop government fraud through greater oversight.
- We need greater budget transparency and accountability.
- Illinois must ensure that banks invest in small businesses to help keep and create jobs.
This session we face many of the same challenges that we did last year. In order to move forward with plans to stabilize the budget and our economy, we are going to need bipartisan support for increased revenue and budget reforms. I look forward to working with the Governor and both parties to improve Illinois’ economic outlook.
Statement from Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady on Gov. Quinn’s State of the State Address
"Governor Quinn’s State of the State address today exemplifies the Illinois Democratic Party’s disconnect from reality. We are a state on the verge of financial collapse. A laundry list of government created jobs, government programs and a bail-out from the Federal Government is not a serious approach to economic and fiscal recovery. We can’t wish away a $90 billion unfunded pension liability."
"The People of the State of Illinois will have a clear choice in November between the failed policies of the Quinn/Blagojevich/Madigan single-party rule Democrats and the fiscally responsible approach to running this state articulated by each of our Republican Gubernatorial candidates."
Statement From Illinois Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Andy McKenna on State of the State Address
“Nearly one year after Governor Quinn took office we are still facing the same problems on a much larger scale; a state on the brink of bankruptcy, fewer jobs, the prospect of higher taxes, and no substantive ethics reform.
“Governor Quinn’s speech today only reinforces how out of touch he is with the Illinois families and how we are in desperate need of new leadership.
“Matt Murphy and I have a plan to solve this budget crisis without a tax increase and bring more good-paying jobs to Illinois.”
Media Outlets Gather for State of the State Address
Originally uploaded by IllinoisChannel
CHICAGO - The Illinois Policy Institute, a non-partisan public policy organization, has issued the following statement regarding Governor Pat Quinn's State of the State Address:
"Governor Quinn had an opportunity to offer meaningful spending cuts and tax relief to revitalize our struggling economy and balance our budget," said John Tillman CEO, Illinois Policy Institute. "Unfortunately, he chose to embrace the failed policies of the past such as more government spending and higher taxes. Illinois politicians have tried these "remedies" previously, but they've resulted in Illinois having one of the worst economies in the nation. Springfield needs to live within its means, limit the growth of government spending and support policies that attract businesses and create jobs."
The Illinois Policy Institute recently released a report outlining fifteen (15) missed opportunities by Governor Quinn and the legislature that would have put Illinois' budget on firmer footing. Examples include adopting efficiency savings measures, pursuing Medicaid reform and reining in wasteful spending. The full report can be found at: http://illinoispolicy.org/news/article.asp?ArticleSource=1894
About the Illinois Policy Institute
The Illinois Policy Institute is a nonpartisan research and education organization dedicated to making our state a beacon for liberty and prosperity for all citizens. As a leading voice for economic liberty and government accountability, we engage policy makers, opinion leaders, and citizens on the state and local level by promoting free market principles and liberty-based public policy initiatives for a better Illinois. To learn more about our organization or review our policy briefs, please visit our website at www.illinoispolicyinstitute.org
Waiting for the State of the State Address to Begin
Originally uploaded by IllinoisChannel
Monday, January 11, 2010
CHICAGO – Recognizing National Influenza Vaccination Week, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold today was joined by U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) and other public health officials to encourage Illinois residents to get their H1N1 vaccination.
“The H1N1 flu continues to circulate throughout the state. Last week, 67 additional hospitalizations and three deaths related to H1N1 flu were reported in Illinois. The amount of illness we are seeing is decreasing, but we are still seeing hospitalizations and deaths related to the H1N1 virus,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Illinois Department of Public Health Director. “Illinoisans need to avoid becoming complacent. The time to get vaccinated for H1N1 is now.”
Federal, state, and local public health officials came together today to observe National Influenza Vaccination Week and remind Illinoisans of the importance of being vaccinated for the H1N1 flu virus. After seven consecutive weeks of decreasing influenza-like-illness in outpatients statewide, Illinois saw a slight increase in influenza-like-illness last week. Although the likelihood of a future wave of the H1N1 flu cannot be predicted, health officials know that vaccination is the most important step in protecting against influenza.
“National Influenza Vaccination Week is an important opportunity to recognize that H1N1 flu is a serious disease, and while many cases are mild, some can be deadly. There are still a lot of lives to be saved by getting ourselves and our families vaccinated,” said Cristal Thomas, MPP, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region V.
Since the H1N1 flu virus began to circulate in April, there have been 2,696 lab-confirmed hospitalizations and 86 deaths related to the H1N1 flu virus in Illinois. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between mid-April and November 14, 2009, 47 million people in the United States were infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu, more than 200,000 people were hospitalized, and over 9,800 people died.
There is now a very good supply of the H1N1 vaccine available to all Illinois residents who want to be vaccinated. H1N1 vaccine is now available to Illinois residents through local health departments, private physicians, and retail pharmacies. For a list of the nearest public vaccination sites in IL and to learn more about the H1N1 flu, visit www.ready.illinois.gov or www.flu.gov.
Pharmacies may charge a fee for administering the vaccine, typically between $12 and $22. This fee is covered by most health insurance. People should bring their health insurance information with them to the pharmacy, and they may need to submit a receipt to their insurance company for reimbursement. Those without health insurance can receive an H1N1 flu vaccination free of charge at all local health departments in Illinois.
For questions about the H1N1 flu, call the Illinois Flu Hotline at 866- 848-2094 – translators are available.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
CHICAGO – January 7, 2010. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget of the State of Illinois today is pleased to announce the successful sale of $3.466 Billion in taxable General Obligation Bonds at a rate of 3.854% to be deposited into the Pension Contribution Fund. Funds from these bonds will reimburse or fund the State’s required deposit to its pension systems for fiscal year 2010. The bond principal amount will be paid in equal installments over the next five years.
“This is a very successful deal for the State of Illinois and the 3.854% rate is proof the State’s economy is strong,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “Investors have expressed confidence in our State and have allowed us to meet our Pension Contribution for this fiscal year."
Close to 200 investors, including major American, European, and Asian investors purchased these bonds. Demand exceeded $8 Billion resulting in an oversubscription of $3.9 Billion-a 2 to 1 coverage. The oversubscription allowed pricing to be improved 15 basis points over initial indications.
“The level of demand for this bond issuance reflects the markets belief in the State’s long term financial strength, said David Vaught, Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.
Eleven Banks participated in this transaction including J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Loop Capital Markets who served as Joint Book Running Senior Managers. Mesirow Financial served as Senior Manager. Seven other firms completed the underwriting syndicate. Peralta Garcia Solutions served as financial advisor to the State in connection with this financing.
“I’m very pleased with the hard work and great execution provided to the State by our bank group,” said John Sinsheimer, Director of Capital Markets for the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.
This is the State's first issuance of medium term notes for its pension system and is the second largest deal ever done by the State. It is one of only a handful of deals this size ever completed by state issuers.
The General Assembly authorized these bonds during the July 2009 Session. In excess of $800 Million from this bond sale will be used to reimburse the Common School Fund and the General Revenue Fund for monies already advanced to the pension funds.
Statement from Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Andy McKenna on Sale of Thomson Prison and Escape of Prisoners in Southern Illinois
Thursday, January 7, 2010
“Today’s escape of prisoners in southern Illinois is a stark reminder of the dangers Illinoisans could face if Governor Quinn allows GITMO detainees into northwest Illinois.
“This plan, much like Governor Quinn’s early prisoner release program, is another ill-conceived, hastily arranged Blagojevich-style scheme that could put our families in jeopardy.
“I call on President Obama and Governor Quinn to seriously rethink this dangerous plan.”
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn today commended the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) for their 7-4 decision in favor of the closure of the Thomson Correctional Center.
Senator Durbin and Governor Quinn issued the following statement:
“We are pleased the bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability has endorsed the sale of the Thomson Correctional Center to the federal government and rejected the partisan rhetoric.
Elected officials, community and business leaders and the residents of Northwest Illinois are wholeheartedly supporting this proposal because they understand that this is an opportunity to create up to 3,800 jobs and generate more than $1 billion in a region that desperately needs both.
Fully utilizing Thomson and upgrading this facility to make it the safest prison in the nation will not jeopardize the safety and security of our country or our state; we would never endorse a plan that would do so. Despite the fear-mongering and nay-saying of a vocal few, we stand with state, county and local law enforcement officers and state’s attorneys from across the area, and with our nation’s military commanders, who know that this is about making our country safer by removing the deadly recruiting tool that Guantanamo has become.
This should not be a political or partisan issue. This is about doing what’s right for our troops, for our national security and for the people of Illinois. We will continue doing everything we can to make this sale a reality and bring the jobs and other economic benefits to our state.”
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Army Corps of Engineers to publicly release the data on the status of Metro East levees and make both agencies available to brief local community leaders and residents.
“Understanding the structural integrity of the levees in the Metro East area and the risk to those living behind them is fundamentally important to my constituents: hundreds of thousands of lives and billions in economic activity are at stake,” Durbin wrote. “Having access to information and your commitment to work with the local communities in addressing their concerns should be the bedrock of updating flood maps in any area.”
Durbin cited yesterday’s announcement that FEMA had agreed, at his urging, to delay the implementation of the new flood maps for the St. Louis region for at least one year as an opportunity for better understanding: “This additional time brings with it an opportunity for all of those affected by the updating of flood maps a chance to better understand the status of the levees in question and the flood mapping process. I respectfully request your assistance in providing residents of the Metro East area a more complete and transparent accounting of the status of the levees protecting their homes and businesses.”
Elmhurst, ILL., - Adam Andrzejewski, Republican candidate for Governor, is calling on the state legislature to restore Illinois citizens' right to privacy in the voting booth. In late 2007, the Illinois General Assembly passed an update to the election law that effectively undermines the Illinois citizens' right to a secret ballot.
"It's another classic Illinois political trick," Andrzejewski said. "Pass a law that appears to be an improvement on the surface, while operating to undermine rights in its application."
These changes in the law undermine the protections that insure the "secrecy of voting" under the Illinois Constitution, and they will be in place in the February Primary. On December 15, 2009, while defending a court challenge to the flawed legislation, the Illinois Attorney General argued "while plaintiff attempts to suggest to the Court that there is a fundamental right to a secret ballot, no such right exists."
"Here is how it works," explained Andrzejewski. "The law and supporting regulation purport to defend the secret ballot. In practice, however, the voter's privacy is undermined. You can vote in secret, but that secrecy is cancelled out the moment the voting machine informs the election judge that the citizen did not to vote in one of the constitutional races."
"This is an easy issue to explain," said Andrzejewski. "If a voter didn't vote in every race, for whatever reason, their ballot will trigger an alarm, which creates a process where an election judge becomes unnecessarily involved in voting. Illinois citizens' constitutional rights to a secret ballot are undermined."
"When the Legislature enacts, the Board of Elections implements, and Attorney General Lisa Madigan defends unconstitutional laws (SB 662 in 2007)—a law that undermines Illinois citizens' rights to vote in secret—it is time for all citizens to take notice."
"I believe the privacy of voting is more important than schemes to increase votes for incumbents. As governor, I will fight to defend the Illinois Constitution, including the right to privacy in the voting booth," said Andrzejewski. "I will use my powers to defend the citizens by exposing the schemes that undermine our rights."
Monday, January 4, 2010
Illinois Senator Bill Brady, (R) Candidate for Governor, released the following statement today regarding opponent Jim Ryan’s proposal to lease the Illinois State Tollway;
State assets have to be preserved for the long term. My opponent, Jim Ryan, is opening the door to a very dangerous practice. We should not be making a habit out of selling or leasing taxpayers assets for a short-term bump. That only provides a temporary fix to a much larger problem.
I would consider privatizing the tollway only if it could be managed better for the taxpayers and drivers, but our track record in Illinois suggests that would not be the case. The leasing of Chicago’s parking meters, for example, has been anything but beneficial to taxpayers. The transition was plagued with problems, and rates are so high -- increasing 75 cents in some areas in the new year -- many taxpayers can no longer afford the convenience of driving to the city. The privatization of the the Chicago Skyway lead to higher tolls, less maintenance and was forced to close down over some holidays because of snow.
As Governor, my top priority will be to provide the leadership to get the Illinois back to living within its means. There is not an area of state government that can’t afford to do more with less. I will make the difficult decisions necessary to balance Illinois’ budget without raising taxes.
I believe the long-term solution to the state’s fiscal imbalance is bringing back the 700,000 jobs Illinois has lost in recent years, which would ultimately result in a $3 billion annual infusion of tax revenues to the state treasury. In the short term, I will order a top-to-bottom prioritization of state spending to curtail programs that are outdated or underperforming and reconstruct government from the bottom up.
Democratic candidate for Illinois State Treasurer Justin Oberman today announced his plans to use the State Treasurer’s office to make it easier for Illinoisans to buy homes.
Even with home loan insurance from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Department of Veteran Affairs, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac, many banks are requiring buyers to make a down payment of 10-20% of the purchase price. This is keeping most buyers out of the market, even if they have the ability to make mortgage payments.
Furthermore, many first-time homebuyers who have signed contracts to purchase homes or condominiums during pre-construction are forfeiting earnest money deposits to developers. “The Treasurer can work with banks to lower the down payment threshold and get the housing market working again,” said Oberman.
“The Illinois State Treasurer, as the chief investment officer of the State of Illinois, can and should work with banks to issue second-lien loans to those who have the ability to repay, and if elected, I intend to utilize this power to benefit all Illinoisans,” Oberman said.
The Illinois State Treasurer manages more than $17 billion and many banks operating in Illinois vie for the privilege of holding the State’s deposits and providing financial services. “If elected, I will favor banks and other lending institutions that develop and implement second-lien loan programs that will bridge the gap between what is guaranteed by federal insurance or guarantee, and 97% percent of fair market value of an individual’s primary residence. This program must, however, be financially responsible, and, therefore, will only be available to those individuals who have the ability to repay all of their existing financial obligations.”
Coupled with his efforts to encourage banks to provide second-lien loans, Oberman is also committed to working with banks and educating homeowners to make sure that prospective buyers are not taking on too much debt. Banks should make sure that any such loans they issue, when combined with the primary loan, do not result in the borrower exceeding industry-standard debt to income ratios.
“This is yet another example of how the State Treasurer can help improve our economy and help taxpayers across the state create better lives for themselves. I look forward to working with homebuyers on this when I am State Treasurer.”
Oberman’s candidacy has been endorsed by former Congressman and Judge Abner Mikva and former U.S. Senator and State Treasurer Adlai Stevenson. Sen. Stevenson recorded a radio ad for the campaign that is running now; it can also be heard on the campaign web site at www.obermanforillinois.com.
McKenna Signs Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge; Challenges Opponents to do the Same
CHICAGO – Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Andy McKenna announced today that he signed the Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge, vowing as Governor to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
“I am pleased to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge because it is wrong to ask the taxpayers of Illinois to do more when their government has done so little,” said McKenna. “I challenge my opponents to sign this pledge and make a commitment to the hardworking men and women of this state that they will not raise taxes.”
While some of his opponents continue to flip-flop on whether they will raise taxes, McKenna’s opposition to tax hikes has been clear for years including his collaboration with Republican Leaders Tom Cross and Christine Radogno to defeat Governor Quinn’s jobs-killing income tax hike.
Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle. It was founded in 1985 by Grover Norquist at the request of President Ronald Reagan. Since ATR first sponsored the Pledge in 1986, hundreds of U.S. Representatives, more than fifty U.S. Senators and every successful Republican Presidential candidate have all signed the Pledge.
See Andy McKenna’s pledge here.
CHICAGO – January 4, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn today announced the appointment of Manuel Flores as Chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). Flores, a Chicago alderman, brings to his new position a deep understanding of public service, a record for advancing pro-environmental initiatives, and a commitment to expanding broadband Internet access throughout Illinois.
“Manny Flores is an experienced and highly-regarded public servant who will provide a fresh viewpoint at this very important Commission,” said Governor Quinn. “He excelled in the Chicago City Council and will do so at the helm of the ICC.”
Upon Senate confirmation, Flores will be the first Latino Chairman of the ICC. A prominent member of the Chicago City Council, he was elected as 1st Ward Alderman in 2003. He has served in numerous capacities including on the Capital and Technology Development committee and the Energy, Environmental Protection, and Public Utilities committee. He also serves on the Illinois Broadband Deployment Council and the Board of Community Health. (Background information attached)
Flores has been a tireless advocate for building Chicago’s green economy by pushing for LEED certification in new developments, launching GreenEconomyChicago.com, an online social networking platform to develop policy to promote a green marketplace, and spearheading the Chicago’s Green Exchange development, a green business mall that will be a premier destination for clean technology and energy companies.
“I want to thank Governor Quinn for the appointment and I’m proud to serve the state of Illinois as the Chairman of Illinois Commerce Commission,” said Flores.
A graduate of Dominican University and George Washington University Law School, Flores served as a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. He began his career in public service as an aide to Congressman Luis Guiterrez.
The Illinois Commerce Commission’s acts as a bridge between consumers and Illinois’ utility companies, seeking an appropriate balance between the interests of consumers and service providers in order to ensure adequate, efficient, reliable, safe and least-cost public utility services for all citizens of Illinois.
For more information on the ICC, please visit: http://www.icc.illinois.gov/