Senator Barickman’s Senate Week in Review: March 23

Governor Bruce Rauner announced plans to explore construction of a new veterans’ facility on the Quincy-based campus recently under scrutiny for a Legionnaires Disease outbreak.

Also announced was the creation of a bipartisan Legislative Public Safety Group, tasked with developing legislative proposals to advance public safety throughout Illinois in a number of areas.

In other news, a recent comparison ranked Illinois as having the worst tax burden in the nation, underscoring the need to mitigate the burden on Illinois’ taxpayers.

Meanwhile, March 20 was declared National Agriculture Day in Illinois, celebrating the great agricultural industry in Illinois. March is also Poison Prevention Month, as part of a campaign to educate the public about poisoning prevention.

March 20 declared National Agriculture Day in Illinois

Recognizing the importance of Illinois’ agriculture industry to the economy of this state, Governor Bruce Rauner declared March 20 National Agriculture Day. The day celebrated the 72,200 farms that call Illinois home and the hardworking people throughout in the ag community who continue to make agriculture the number one industry in the state.

According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois farmlands span across approximately 75 percent of the state’s total land area, generating more than $19 billion for Illinois’ economy and holding the role as a leading producer of soybeans, corn and swine. Last year, a state-record corn yield was harvested by Illinois farmers, averaging 201 bushels per acre, and farmers produced 10.5 million acres of soybeans.

With farmers gearing up for the start of another planting season, National Agriculture Day is a great reminder for everyone to celebrate Illinois’ rich agriculture industry, recognize the hardworking individuals involved in the agricultural community and remember the critical role the industry plays in Illinois’ economy.

State Senator Jason Barickman, who was raised on a family farm, noted the importance of recognizing agriculture’s impact on Illinois. “Agriculture is the biggest industry in our state, forming the backbone of our economy,” said Barickman. “It’s important that we remember the value of the industry and the economic engine it provides for everyone in the state.”

Legislative Public Safety Group Created

A bipartisan Legislative Public Safety Group has been created from members of all four legislative caucuses to work with the Administration on furthering progress in a number of public safety areas.

Issues to be explored and discussed include, school safety, mental health, interstate crime prevention network, repeat gun offenders, concentrated crime force deployments and economic revitalization. Members of the safety group will work together to develop legislative proposals to advance public safety throughout Illinois in these areas.

Illinois’ tax burden ranked worst in nation

A recent comparison from the personal financial website WalletHub that ranked Illinois as having the worst tax burden in the nation. Claiming a total state and local tax rate median of nearly 15 percent, Illinois falls dead last in the ranking. That figure is more than double of that in Alaska, which has the lowest tax burden of approximately 6 percent. 

All 50 states and the District of Columbia were compared using four factors including, real-estate tax, vehicle property tax, income tax and sales and excise tax.

This ranking comes months after Illinois taxpayers were strapped with the largest permanent income tax hike in Illinois’ history, raising the rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent this past July.

Senator Barickman said he believes the study underscores the importance of fiscal responsibility and restraint in state government, traits that have been lacking in Springfield for far too long.

Quincy Veterans’ Home sees movement for new facility

As part of the response to Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at the Quincy-based Illinois Veterans’ Home, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner recently announced plans to explore building a new facility on the Quincy campus. 

On March 15, the Administration announced it is seeking a Master Planner to research possible development of a new state-of-the-art facility for the Quincy Veterans’ Home residents. This project would incorporate the final recommendations issued by the Infrastructure Task Force, which is to present final suggestions to the General Assembly by May 31.

The Administration said it is also looking to partner with Illinois’ US Senate and Congressional delegation to secure additional funding for the project. As such, the state will submit an application to the US Department of Veterans Affairs for a grant covering up to 65 percent of building costs for the new facility.

The state also announced plans to purchase a vacant nursing home facility close to the Quincy campus and intends to renovate the facility for temporary housing, creating a place to move residents in the event of future Legionella exposure. Similarly, the administration is exploring the use of modular buildings on the grounds, which could serve as temporary house solutions in the event residents need to be moved.

Steps continue to be taken to prevent future exposure to Legionella, including the re-sanitization of the HVAC system on campus, ongoing water testing, the installation of a monitoring system for disinfection levels and the installation of more than 750 new faucets with special micron filters across the campus. 

Poison Prevention Month

Each year, more than four million calls are made to poison centers across the nation each year, with more than 80,000 of those calls being placed into the Illinois Poison Center. To help bring awareness to the dangers of poisoning exposure and to educate the public about poisoning prevention, March is National Poison Prevention Month in Illinois.

According to the Illinois Poison Center (IPC), more hospitalizations can be attributed to poisoning than from motor vehicle crashes or firearm injuries combined.

The IPC has a confidential helpline that can be reached at 1-800-222-1222 and can be contacted if you or someone you know is suspected of being exposed to a poisonous substance. The American Red Cross also offers information on poisoning safety and first aid, including the importance of keeping medicines and chemicals secured and reading medication instructions closely.

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