Senator Barickman’s Senate Week in Review: September 28 – October 2

With no state budget in place, Illinoisans are being called upon to take more responsibility for renewal of their license plates. The Secretary of State’s Office has announced suspension of its mailed license plate renewal program, savings nearly $450,000 a month in postage money. But motorists can still receive a reminder notice via email through https://www.ilsos.gov/greenmail/ . The registration ID and PIN from the vehicle registration form are necessary to sign up, but motorists who don’t have those materials handy can find them by calling the Public Inquiry Division at 800-252-8980.

With the state entering the fourth consecutive month of the fiscal year without a budget, state spending is largely controlled by court orders, consent decrees, and some continuing appropriations. Recent estimates show that without a balanced budget agreement, the state will likely run out of money early in 2016.

The impact is being felt on some areas of state government, including closing the Illinois State Museum in Springfield (along with satellite facilities in four other locations) and the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta to the public. However, scientific research at the museum facilities will continue, collections will be maintained by curators and educators will focus on future programmatic planning. Other museum employees will assume temporary roles in other capacities, while at the Sparta complex workers will begin readying the facility for the winter months. Public employee unions are suing to avoid layoffs at the facilities.

Senate Republican lawmakers continue to push for a resolution to the impasse that includes structural reforms intended to make Illinois competitive, create jobs and boost economic growth, while funding priority services and programs.

ConAgra to move to Chicago

Chicago got an economic boost when it was confirmed this week that food giant ConAgra will be moving its corporate headquarters to the city—along with nearly 1,000 jobs. The company already employs around 400 people in a Naperville office, but plans to move its headquarters to the Windy City from current Omaha, Nebraska. It is part of a restructuring plan that is estimated to save the company about $300 million over the next three years and will result in a gain of jobs in Illinois. The new ConAgra headquarters will be based out of the Merchandise Mart facility in downtown Chicago.

ConAgra owns brands including Slim Jim meat sticks, Hebrew national hot dogs, Chef Boyardee, Swiss Miss and Reddi-Whip.

Farmers make major harvest progress

A warm, mostly dry week gave farmers several days of good conditions to continue with the 2015 harvest. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 30% of the Illinois corn crop is now harvested, a large jump from just 13% the week before, and just behind the 5-year average of 34%. Progress continues to vary by region, with the Southwestern area leading the state at 55% harvested, while Northeastern Illinois corn remains just 6% harvested.

Farmers are also making progress cutting soybeans, with 24% of Illinois acres now harvested, up from just 3% the previous week, and well ahead of the 5-year average of only 12%. Many farmers who had already begun harvesting corn, switched to beans in recent days. While both crops are drying in the fields, farmers have a narrower window to safely and easily harvest soybeans, because beans that are too dry may be lost before entering the combine.

College of DuPage passes major cuts, reduces local property taxes

The College of DuPage board passed a $184 million budget, including more than $7.5 million in cuts from the fiscal year 2015 budget. According to the college, the cuts will likely mean a $10 decrease in the average bill for a home valued at $255,000 in the district. The college had previously stirred controversy when it was discovered that $126 million in excess revenues had been collected since fiscal year 2011.

October is Thrombosis Awareness Month in Illinois

The month of October is now recognized in Illinois as Thrombosis Awareness Month, thanks to legislation sponsored by Senator Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) and adopted by the Senate earlier this year. Approximately 600,000 people in the United States are estimated to develop venous thromboemoism, and 400,000 expected to develop deep vein thrombosis of the legs. Pulmonary emoblisms, a serious and potentially fatal complication of vein thrombosis affects at least 200,000 people in the nation per year.

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