Springfield, Ill – State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) continued to meet with constituents and attend events in the 35th District this week, while the House of Representatives met for a brief legislative session – and another round of political games.
But the unresolved budget is hardly a Springfield-only problem. A number of news items during the week proved the point – including the loss of hundreds of jobs specifically tied to Illinois’s poor business climate. Senator Barickman continues to fight for much-needed reform, to bring jobs back to Illinois and fix the broken status quo.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a number of bills into law this week as well – including landmark legislation on police body cameras – and the Illinois State Fair kicked off on Aug. 13.
House Democrats play politics with $5 billion affecting in social services
Last week, the Senate took unanimous, bipartisan action to pass nearly $5 billion in federal funds for social service programs, ranging from meals for senior citizens to rehabilitation services for children with disabilities. Gov. Rauner indicated that he would quickly sign the bill, allowing federally-funded programs to continue unimpeded by the stalemate in Springfield.
But the Democrat supermajority in the House, led by House Speaker Michael Madigan, had other ideas.
Rather than moving to approve the bipartisan bill, the House attached a “poison pill” amendment, spending an additional $1.5 billion, designed to force House Republicans into a politically disadvantageous vote. The measure fell 17 votes short of the required three-fifths vote required to pass. A separate amendment, added later to make minor changes, passed on a bipartisan 98-0 vote. The Senate is expected to pass the measure next week.
Lessons from Illinois, Part 1: Turmoil, uncertainty for Illinois jobs
This week, Suburban Chicago-based Hoist Liftruck, a forklift manufacturer, announced that it would be taking 300 jobs out of Illinois and into neighboring Indiana.
According to the head of the company, “the environment [in Illinois] isn’t friendly for what I do.” The move is expected to save the company $1 million per year in workers’ compensation costs – a major jobs issue that Senate Republicans have been fighting to reform for months.
In related economic news this week:
Motorola announced it would cut about 25 percent of its Chicago workforce, a loss of about 2,000 jobs.
Kraft Heinz announced it would be cutting 700 jobs at its Northfield headquarters – more than one-third of its Northfield employees.
Amid the gloom, the Joliet area got a bit of good news: e-retailer Amazon announced it would be bringing 1,000 full-time jobs to the area with a major distribution warehouse “fulfillment center.”
Illinois is still struggling to recover from the recession, and has lost more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs in the last decade. Senator Barickman said it is unfortunate that Republican efforts to pass major pro-jobs reforms this session have been stymied by the Democrats in control of the Legislature. And the ongoing stalemate over the state budget has further contributed to Illinois’ economic uncertainty.
Lessons from Illinois, Part 2: State losing residents, revenue
As Illinois continues to work its way through the state budget mess, and as businesses continue to leave or question their future in Illinois, families are too often left in the lurch.
New Census Bureau data released this summer shows that Illinois had 10,000 fewer residents in 2014 than it did the previous year – the largest drop of any state in the nation, and more than three times the loss of the second-place state (West Virginia).
And according to new data from the IRS, the residents are taking their purses and wallets with them.
In tax year 2011 (the most recent available year, and the first year after the Democrats’ record income tax hike), Illinois lost $2.5 million in income solely because of outbound moves. Illinois lost residents to 42 of 50 states that year, including each of our neighbors.
Gov. Rauner signs body camera bill, legislator pay freeze
Gov. Rauner signed a landmark law enforcement bill that provides standards for officer-worn body cameras – one of the first states in the nation to do so. Senate Bill 1304 also requires independent investigations into officer-involved deaths, and improves training and data collection.
Rauner also signed a measure pushed by Senate Republicans to turn down a two percent cost-of-living adjustment for legislators, constitutional officers, agency directors, and others. House Bill 576 also freezes per-diem and mileage reimbursement rates at their current level.
Throughout the summer, Republicans had to consistently push the issue to the front burner, before legislative Democrats ultimately relented amid a flurry of negative media attention.
A complete list of bills signed by the governor is available on the Senate Action page of the Senate Republican Caucus Web site at http://senategop.state.il.us/AbouttheSenate/SenateAction.aspx.
Rauner request for disaster aid granted
After an early summer of historic rain and flooding, the United States Department of Agriculture granted a request for official disaster designation in 87 Illinois counties and 14 contiguous counties.
Farmers and landowners in the following counties are eligible for consideration:
Adams, Alexander, Bond, Brown, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, DeWitt, Douglas, DuPage, Edwards, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Gallatin, Greene, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jersey, Johnson, Kane, Kankakee, Knox, La Salle, Lawrence, Lee, Livingston, Logan, McDonough, McLean, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Massac, Menard, Mercer, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Pope, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Richland, Rock Island, St. Clair, Saline, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Stark, Tazewell, Union, Vermilion, Wabash, Warren, Washington, Wayne, White, Whiteside, Will, Williamson, Woodford.
The following contiguous counties may also be eligible:
Boone, Bureau, Christian, Coles, Cook, Edgar, Jo Daviess, Kendall, McHenry, Moultrie, Ogle, Shelby, Stephenson, Winnebago.
Eligible farmers, landowners, or anyone who has any questions should call the state Farm Service Agency office at (217) 241-6600.
Illinois State Fair kicks off
Alligator on a stick. The Butter Cow. Conservation World. The High Dive Show. Ethnic Village. These are just some of the many traditions at the Illinois State Fair kicking off this week in Springfield. The annual festival, which brings nearly one million people though its gates, celebrates agriculture, one of the state’s biggest industries. Agriculture is responsible for more than 430,000 jobs in Illinois.
Preview night on Aug. 13 unofficially kicked off the State Fair with free admission and discounts on carnival rides, with the official opening celebration Aug. 14. The 11-day event features live music from some of music’s biggest names, harness racing, carnival rides, dozens of food vendors, various entertainers, animal shows, and displays from groups and organizations from across the state.
The Illinois State Fair runs August 13-23. Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for children, $3 for senior citizens, and free for kids. For more schedules, list of vendors, and the Grandstand lineup, check out the Illinois State Fair website. For those who can’t attend the fair in person, you can follow the action on social media with hashtags #GrowingIllinois, #ISawTheButterCow, and #StateFairSelfie.
Crops begin catching up
With a few weeks mostly filled with sunshine, Illinois crops are nearing their five-year progress averages.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 89 percent of soybean plants are now blooming, and 70 percent are setting pods, which are just behind the five-year averages of 93 percent and 71 percent respectively. Sixty-seven percent of corn acres have made it to the dough stage, and 17percent have reached the dent stage, closing in on the typical averages of 69 percent and 24 percent.
Crop quality is nearly identical to the previous week with 56 percent of corn and 50 percent of soybeans rated as good to excellent.
Statewide, rainfall averaged just .85 inches last week, which made for two weeks in a row with rainfall rated as .13 inch below normal. The field time is helping farmers wrap up the second cutting of hay which is now 92 percent complete, an eight-point gain from the previous seven days. For those farmers already into their third cutting, progress was made there as well, with 38 percent of acres complete, up from 23 percent last week.